What if I told you that a runner’s high wasn’t caused by endorphins, rather cannabinoids in your body. And that feeling of a runner’s high is believed to have been developed as a part of human evolution over time. Today we’ll be looking at the latest info on what is runner’s high, what causes runner’s high, and how you can achieve it while running. As always I’ll do my best to provide quotes and links form the most recent studies on the topic. I’ve done the research so you don’t have to.
- Runner’s high is caused by the release of naturally occurring endocannabinoids during strenuous activity.
- The evolutionary purpose of runner’s high may be to reward endurance during hunting and gathering.
- Endocannabinoids help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, contributing to the euphoric feeling.
- Runner’s high is generally described as a sense of euphoria, numbness, and calmness while running.
- It is not bad for you if you are medically fit for running, and genetics play a role in achieving it.
- Continuous moderate-intensity activity is key to experiencing runner’s high and can be achieved through various exercises.
What is runner’s high?
The dictionary defines a runner’s high as “a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins by the brain.” And to a certain extent this is right.
A runner’s high is the feeling of experiencing euphoria while running. And there are studies that have shown that high intensity training can cause the release of endorphins. But up until now, the idea that they are connected has been nothing but pure speculation. And it’s actually another study by Doctor David Raichlen that has led to evidence that it’s not endorphins, rather endocannabinoids. A natural cannabinoid produced in the body that is responsible for causing a runner’s high. In high levels these naturally occurring endocannabinoids have a similar effect to being on cannabis. Which Raichlen’s study finds to be what causes the runner’s high experience.
In his study, Dr. Raichlen found a direct correlation between the levels of exercise and the naturally occurring levels of endocannabinoids in subjects’ blood. To test this, he had people going on treadmills at different speeds for different lengths and then druid their blood, testing the levels. His study showed that moderately intense activity for 30 minutes lead to up to 3x the endocannabinoids level in subject blood. Increasing with the amount of speed and intensity.
TLDR: What is runner’s high? According to a recent study, runner’s high is caused by the body releasing naturally occurring endocannabinoids into the bloodstream during strenuous activity.
What causes runner’s high?
So that begs the question, why do we get runner’s high? The answer to this is one of the things we don’t fully know for sure. But Dr. Raichlen does have a theory. He believes that the runner’s high is an evolutionary process that developed over time to reward humans back when hunters and gathering was our main source of food. Helping evolve humans into one of the top endurance species on earth. Like other pack animals, humans would track much stronger and faster (in short distance) animals for days. Wearing them out before attacking. And that this “hunters high” has passed down to this day.
How does it affect the body?
Working on the leading theory that endocannabinoids are the cause of the euphoric feeling while running. According to studies, these endocannabinoids actually help in reducing pain. They also have a benefit on inflammation and swelling. This seems to make sense as these cannabinoids act very similar to the effects as those in marijuanna. And Smoking marijuanna is proven to raise natural levels of endocannabinoids to levels of that of people experiencing runners high. I believe this also lends credence to the theory that the body has developed these over time to reward hard work while reducing muscle pain and improving recovery.
What does runner’s high feel like?
While not the same for everyone, it is generally described as a feeling of euphoria while running. Your body can feel numb and most say the experience has an incredible sense of calm. While feeling as if they can run forever.
Is it bad for you?
No, a runner high is not bad for you. If you are medically safe to be running you shouldn’t have anything to be worried about.
How to get a runner’s high?
Dr. Raichlen’s studies showed the key to achieving a runner’s high is continuous activity at a moderate intensity. The length and intensity can be different for everyone and genetics plates a roll in if you can even achieve a runner’s high. And this doesn’t have to be achieved through running. Here is a link to a follow up study showing the same increased endocannabinoids while cycling, walking on a treadmill at an incline, and outdoor hiking.
The mysterious phenomenon known as “runner’s high” is not solely attributed to endorphins, as commonly believed. Recent research suggests that the release of naturally occurring endocannabinoids during strenuous physical activity is responsible for this euphoric sensation. Dr. David Raichlen’s study has shed light on this connection, proposing that runner’s high may have evolved to reward endurance during our hunter-gatherer past. These endocannabinoids not only create a sense of euphoria but also help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, which aligns with their similarities to the effects of marijuana. While the experience of runner’s high can vary from person to person, it generally encompasses feelings of euphoria, numbness, and calmness during exercise. Importantly, it is not detrimental to your health if you are medically fit for running, and achieving it may depend on your genetics. To unlock the benefits of runner’s high, continuous moderate-intensity activity is key, and this elevated state can be attained through various forms of exercise beyond running. So, whether you’re on a treadmill, cycling, hiking, or simply walking at an incline, you have the potential to experience the remarkable benefits of runner’s high.