The runners high happens because the pituitary gland releases endorphins in certain circumstances such as when your body is engaged in physical exertion and is temporarily under stress.
The release of these hormones serves two purposes
One they give you the ability to keep going when you are tired by masking the pain you might be feeling and two they provide you with a pleasurable almost euphoric experience that rewards you for pushing yourself further than you might otherwise do.
The reasons why we have this gift goes back to our ancestral times and will be explained in more detail later in the article but did you know that!
Endorphins release or the runners high as some people call it can also
Help you overcome mild depression?
Help slow down the ageing process?
Help revitalize and energize your body for hours after your exercise has finished?
And get this
Scientists have also discovered that Beta – endorphins can boost the bodies natural killer cells which not only improve you immune system, fights disease but they might even kill cancer cells.
I know it seems incredible to think that your body is capable of such extraordinary power but it’s true. The latest evidence suggests that the release of endorphins not only gives you the wonderful feeling of the runners high and the benefits already mentioned but might even have other rewards that we do not know about yet.
Now for the best news of all, it is a fact that the natural high one gets when exercising is the best way to trigger the release of all these fantastic endorphins.
How is it possible for us to possess such power? Well without getting to scientific your pituitary gland releases endorphins when you are physically active for a certain amount of time and you start to feel mild stress. To cope with the stress endorphins provide you with an exercise high – a reason to keep going – because some of the pain you are feeling is lessened and a euphoric feeling takes place in your body to reward you for your continued efforts.
If this seems incredible bare in mind that some endorphins have been show to be 50 times more powerful than morphine.
Now you might be wondering why we would have such a strong pain killer in are bodies and the answer is it is all thanks to our ancestors.
Many thousands of years ago back in the hunter gatherer days – Yes even before I was born – The way our forefathers hunted was to track an animal and then with spear in hand simply run it down until the animal could run no further because of shear exhaustion.
Now, suppose you where one of those hunters and the kids are crying because they are hungry, the misses is calling you a lazy B?????? And you decide you better get off your arse and do something about it.
First you would have to track the animal and then run after it until one of you quit and that’s where endorphins come into play.
The release of these hormones would cause the runners high to kick in to reduce the pain of your exertion and replace it with a feeling of pleasure and as any psychologist will tell you nothing motivates a person like reward and pleasure.
The end result is you would win the race and go home feeling on top of the world because the kids would eat that night and the endorphins have just gave you a great exercise high.
Now you no longer have to run down animals to eat (unless you live in Tennessee) but the ability to feel the runners’ high still remains within all of us and can still be triggered through exercise.
So not only does working out make you look good, but it also makes you feel good because of the exercise high you get.
In fact, as mentioned earlier the runners high you get from training will
Lift your spirits when you are down.
Help with mild depression (unless you live in Tennessee).
Improve your self esteem
Give you a boost of energy that is exhilarating.
It sounds good to me! And other people think these benefits are enough of a reason to exercise regardless of the physical benefits you gain when you train regularly.
If you put the psychological benefits of experiencing the natural high caused by endorphin release and combine it with the physical improvements of
Then it is a mystery to me why more people don’t exercise regularly, after all what else can offer so much and need not cost a penny?
Now you can see that endorphin release enables you to experience a euphoric natural high you might be wondering what exercises you have to do to reap the rewards of this experience
Well, the good news is you don’t have to track and run down animals for this feeling in fact you don’t even have to run at all if you don’t want to.
The latest scientific research suggests that any exercise that is reasonably intense gets your heart pumping a bit faster and lasts for at least 20 minutes will do the trick.
So here are a number of options besides running that you can choose from if you prefer them.
You can do a strength exercise circuit that includes exercises such as press ups, dips, pull ups, Hindu squats and Janda sit-ups.
All you have to do is go from one exercise to another without stopping and when you have done every exercise you have completed one set.
Obviously you will become more fatigued the more sets you do, so one of the best ways to avoid overdoing it but still keeping a good exercise tempo is to start with – lets say – 10 reps per exercise and decrease the reps after each set. So you would do 10 reps for your first set then 9 for your second and so on until you are end up doing only one rep per exercise.
Doing your strength circuit this way enables you to keep a good tempo for the whole time you are doing the circuit for. Just remember, if you have to stop do so only for a few extra breaths and lower the reps even more if you are struggling.
The good point about doing a strength circuit instead of running is you gain more strength, muscle, and lose fat as well as experiencing the runners high as your reward.
Another way to get an exercise high is boxing training. You can combine shadow boxing, bag work, skipping and some abdominal training. Keep in mind technique is not important unless you plan to become a champion. All that matters is you release those wonderful endorphins to get the runners high and all the benefits that go with it.
Cycling is also a great way to bring on the natural high of exercise if you can find somewhere to cycle without having to stop and start or worry about traffic.
In fact, any exercise that involves the major muscles and taxes your breathing for 20 minutes or more will bring on the runners high. So use your imagination and do what gives you the most fun.
My own experience of getting an exercise high
I once did Hindu squats for a full hour without stopping and my experience was that the first 20 minutes were awful and all I could feel was intense pain in my legs and back which caused me to have a strong urge to quit. However, about a third of the way into the hour the endorphins took effect and the runners high I got took over my whole body. All of a sudden I had a great feeling of contentment and peace and felt like I could have continued for as long as I wanted to.
If you are going to make exercise a part of your life then it makes sense to get as much out of it as you can. Not just the physical side – although that is important – but also the mental benefits which include the runners high.
If you decide to experiment with endorphin release and experiencing the runners high we have been talking about. The latest scientific research suggests that the pace or tempo of your exercise is very important in helping the natural high take place.
If your exercise tempo is to easy then your body will not be put under enough stress to encourage endorphin release.
If your exercise tempo is to hard then your body will be in to much shock and pain to experience an exercise high.
So you’ve guessed it! The best exercise pace to bring on the runners high is the one that is neither too easy nor too hard. It should be taxing but not so painful that it stops you enjoying natures natural high.
Good Luck and go and get high!
See the benefits of exercise to compliment the runners high