What Is The Physiological Explanation Behind Experiencing A "runner's High" During A Workout?

What is the physiological explanation behind experiencing a "runner's high" during a workout?

The Runner's High

The runner's high is a known phenomenon characterized by feelings of euphoria and reduced anxiety that often occur after engaging in prolonged aerobic activities, like running, swimming or cycling. Initially believed to be caused by the release of endorphins we now understand that this enjoyable sensation involves an interplay of multiple physiological systems within the body.

The traditional explanation revolves around endorphins which're neurochemicals produced by the nervous system and the pituitary gland. These substances bear similarities to morphine. Are known as natural painkillers. During exercise the body increases its production of endorphins which can bind to receptors in the brain. This binding action leads to a decrease in pain perception and an overall sense of well being.

However recent research suggests that the role of endorphins alone does not fully explain the runners high since these molecules are relatively large and struggle to cross the blood brain barrier. As a result scientists have turned their attention to neurochemicals like endocannabinoids – substances naturally produced by our bodies. Endocannabinoids have the ability to cross into the brain and interact, with receptors influencing pleasure, mood regulation and overall feelings of well being. These factors may significantly contribute to experiencing the runners high.

In addition, to endorphins and endocannabinoids there are factors that can contribute to the sensation known as a runners high;

  • Dopamine; Engaging in activity triggers the release of dopamine a neurotransmitter linked to the brains reward and pleasure centers.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine; These neurotransmitters are also released during exercise, which can enhance mood and alleviate feelings of depression thereby contributing to the experience of a runners high.
  • changes; Regular exercise promotes neuroplasticity, which's the brains ability to form new neural connections. This can improve brain function and resilience potentially leading to an increased sense of well being.
  • Stress reduction; Exercise helps decrease levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in the body. This reduction in stress hormones can promote relaxation. Reduce anxiety adding to the sensations associated with a runners high.
  • Temperature regulation; The rise in body temperature, during exercise can induce muscle relaxation. Provide a comforting sensation to that of taking a warm bath.

The runners high, which is the feeling of euphoria experienced during or, after exercise can also have factors at play. It is believed that achieving a milestone or engaging in activity can be meditative and improve ones state.

However it's important to note that not everyone experiences the runners high and it may not occur after every exercise session. Various factors such as the intensity and duration of the workout personal fitness level and individual physiology can influence whether someone will feel this phenomenon.

Each persons experience of the runners high can differ greatly. However it is generally agreed upon that aerobic activities performed at moderate to intensities over a period of time are more likely to induce this state.

If you're interested in learning more about the aspects of the runners related topics you may find the following resources helpful;


1 Other Answers To: "What Is The Physiological Explanation Behind Experiencing A "runner's High" During A Workout?"

What is the physiological explanation behind experiencing a "runner's high" during a workout?

The phenomenon known as the "runners high"

refers to a state of euphoria and mental clarity that some people experience while engaging in or, after engaging in prolonged activities. While it has been commonly believed that endorphins and endocannabinoids are solely responsible for inducing this sensation recent scientific perspectives suggest that there is an physiological framework at play involving additional neurochemical and psychological elements.

One interesting aspect of our evolving understanding

revolves around the role of neurotransmitters beyond the endorphin and endocannabinoid systems;

  • Anandamide; This specific endocannabinoid is known for its mood enhancing properties and its ability to easily cross the blood brain barrier compared to endorphins. Anandamide interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, in the brain influencing emotions and cognitive processes thus closely tied to the experience of a runners high.
  • Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF); BDNF is a protein that supports the survival of existing neurons while promoting the growth of neurons and synapses. During exercise levels of BDNF can rise, potentially leading to an enhanced mood and cognitive function contributing to the sensation associated with a runners high.
  • Thresholds of intensity; Evidence suggests that reaching a threshold of exercise intensity is necessary to trigger the onset of a runners high. This threshold can vary from person, to person. Usually requires engaging in moderate to physical activity for a sufficient duration to bring about noticeable changes in the body.
  • tendencies; Differences in experiencing the runners high can be attributed to factors that affect how the body produces and responds to various neurotransmitters and modulators involved in this sensation.
  • Muscle produced proteins; Recent research has also focused on myokines, which're proteins produced by muscle fibers during contraction. These proteins may contribute to the effects of exercise.
  • Hormonal equilibrium; Lastly hormones, like oxytocin often referred to as the "love hormone " might play a role in the intensified feeling of connection and happiness that individuals experience during the runners high.

The runners high exemplifies how our bodies naturally create substances that influence mood and perception. The complete intricacy of this phenomenon remains an area of study as scientists delve into understanding how exercise triggered biochemical reactions lead to benefits.

To gain insight into the reasons

behind the runners high and the involvement of different neurochemicals in this process you can explore additional publications and research papers available in university databases and reputable medical journals like "The Journal of Experimental Biology" or "Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews". These sources offer reviews of studies that focus on how neurochemicals respond to exercise.

Our understanding of the runners high continues to grow. Scientists are actively researching the combination of factors that triggers this phenomenon. This ongoing research highlights the relationship, between activity and mental well being.