How “Runner’s High” Improves Mental Health

For non-runners, running seems crazy. Why would you subject yourself to so much pain, effort, and exhaustion? Maybe you were driving in your car to work this morning and saw someone running along side the road. They’re slouched over, stomping across the pavement, they might even look a little dead in the eyes. It’s crazy; who would choose to suffer like that?

But did you know that most runners experience a phenomenon called the runner’s high?

A runner’s high is the reward that comes after a long episode of cardiovascular exercise. It can vary from person to person, but for most it is a feeling of euphoria! Some describe it as flying, floating, or gliding as they complete their run. Others say it feels like a positive adrenaline rush. It can be accompanied with a good mood and feeling of unlimited energy. It can seem a little crazy to those who haven’t experienced it – how could running make you feel MORE energetic? But it does!

A runner’s high not only gives you a burst of energy and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a challenging run, but it can also make you more impervious to pain. Many runners report a higher pain tolerance after completing their workout. A runner’s high can also alleviate stress, leaving you feeling more relaxed and just happier in general.

The Mental Benefits of a Runner’s High

Scientific studies on mice have shown that mice who ran regularly in a routine were less anxious than mice who did not. The runner’s high left them more relaxed and adaptable to their surroundings. Similar studies also indicated that mice were much more tolerant of pain and discomfort (they weren’t actually hurt, don’t worry!) after their exercise.

Other very impressive findings show that exercise is critical for slowing mental decline which is sometimes associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been found that exercise can stimulate the creation of endorphins and dopamine in runner’s, which leaves them with that pleasant and happy feeling. It can help you manage your emotions more effectively too.

In terms of stress relief, it has been found that the physical stress prompts your body to create and release cortisol, which in turn helps curb mental/emotional stress. People who run regularly report lower levels of stress, the combination of less stress and physical exhaustion means they sleep better as well.

Acheiving A Runner’s High

The key to getting a runner’s high is to run regularly, and to push yourself. Be careful and consult your doctor if you have any physical limitations; but persistently working to increase your running time and distance will mean you regularly reach that runner’s high and enjoy the mental and emotional benefits that come with it. If you’ve been considering adding running to your routine, or wish to make running an easier choice to make – consider a treadmill to make daily running a habit. That runner’s high will make you so glad you did!