What is a ‘Runners High’? Do we need to run for hours and completely exhaust ourselves to get the benefits? Why are fit people so happy all the time?
From an evolutionary perspective, we have adapted to being on our feet for long periods of time. Our ancestors were nomadic, and were required to run when hunting (or being hunted!). We were made to move, but why do some people like to move, and some hate even the idea of it?
Some people claim that the Runners High and the rush of endorphins are what drives them to exercise. A runners high is a neurobiological reward that occurs during and after distance running, creating a sense of euphoria. It improves well-being, reduces stress, reduces anxiety, and leaves you feeling motivated.
In a recent study, humans and dogs were made to run or walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes (yes, I said dogs!). They then tested for endocannabinoids, a marker found in the blood that is related to exercise, and is thought to be responsible for runners high. The result- not only do humans get a runners high, so do dogs! No wonder they are so happy when you let them run!
So this is the solution - you run, you become happier. Therefore running can be prescribed to directly improve mood state. Right? Not quite. It turns out that you may need to be fit already in order to produce enough of this marker to experience the natural high, which is why some people try running, feel nothing but exhaustion, and give up soon after. However, as humans we have the power to make informed choices. If you know that the high will come if you persist, you are more likely to continue!
There is no secret to understanding the rewards we get from running, the best way is to try it! We just need to make the decision to exercise regularly, and be persistent! Need help getting started? Why not ask a friend to run with you, or try our Dynamic Endurance Running Program!