You’ve probably heard of something called a runner’s high? Many runners explain this feeling to be something similar to euphoria, making you feel invincible, feel an absence of time or feel like you no longer experience that nagging shin pain.
The science behind the High
When you exercise, your body produces a huge range of hormones, including endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These are all natural responses to stress on the body. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling similar to morphine and is considered the body’s natural painkiller. As you work out, your body is naturally responding to the physical stressors of exercise. For example, when doing push-ups, your body releases endorphins to help reduce the pain. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about endorphins. When exercising, your brain is producing more neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin, which are also linked to help reduce depression.
“The less active we become, the more challenged we are in dealing with stress.” – J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist
Do I have to Run?
No, you don’t. You can get all the perks of a runners high without running. Any sort of long continuous aerobic exercise can give you a similar feeling. So, if your knees are bad or you just aren’t into running, try cycling, swimming, boxing, circuit training or dancing. Get your heart rate up and your body just might thank you for it later.
“Exercise may actually help ward off depression and anxiety by enhancing the body’s ability to respond to stressors” – j. kip Matthews