The Truth Behind the “Runner’s High”
6/21/2016 11:30 PM
It seems like everywhere we turn lately, the world is on a “get happy” kick. It’s pretty awesome. Americans are hopping on the mindfulness, meditating, yoga, healthy-eating train, in hopes to increase (or create) happiness in their daily lives.
I am, unabashedly, riding first-class on this train. After all, if research shows that meditating for a few minutes a day will make me a happier person, who am I to argue? To start off the New Year, I recently attended a group meditation class with a few friends. The session was great; we practiced different kinds of meditation techniques, along with one exercise that stood out to me. The instructor had us write down five things that centered us, that brought us to that peaceful meditative state, besides just sitting in stillness.
The first thing I wrote down? Running. (Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
But it makes sense. We’ve all heard of “runner’s high” – that amazing feeling you get after a long run, like you’re ready to accomplish anything and everything, to take on the world. Many of you probably already know that this “high” is the release of endorphins – those chemicals that our brain releases that resemble the feeling of morphine. The feelings that make us feel less stressed and happy.
Along with the endorphin party going on, the release of another brain chemical contributes to your state of euphoria: endocannabinoids. These chemicals are the same ones that are triggered by the use of marijuana – they promote calm, relaxing feelings. The difference between the two is that endocannabinoids are able to be created by any cell in the body, while endorphins are created only by specific neurons.
So what’s the formula to release these natural happy-fiers? For starters, beginner runners are less likely to experience this release. According to an article from Runner’s World, “endorphins can’t override an injury or lack of training”. So what’s the trick? Take it slow starting out; the high comes from a middle-ground of a challenging, but not insanely aggressive workout that is obtained after some time with consistent runs.
Let’s get back to the 2016 happy kick. If running can not only provide us with amazing (some would claim, the best) workout to get us in shape, strengthen our bodies, build stamina, and make us happy, what are we waiting for?
Oh right, it’s January… And I don’t know where you are, but the snow on the ground is a slight buzzkill on my motivation to get up with the sun and run outside.
However, running indoors can give the same high as outdoors, so dust off that treadmill. The great thing about the Yowza treadmills is the technology they offer. For example, the Delray Grande has a Mediaport console, where you can watch movies, listen to music, or surf the Internet, all while getting your workout in. This way, you can practice lengthening your runs, all in an effort to achieve that amazing runner’s high. Studies also show that listening to music while running helps to release endorphins, so why not have all entertainment right at your fingertips?