The Runner’s High: The Underlying Mechanisms and How to Achieve It
Bovey, Rachel H.
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The runner’s high is a unique phenomenon described as a euphoric state by long distance runners. The pleasant feelings of euphoria, anxiolysis, sedation, and analgesia have been recorded sensations associated with the phenomenon. Two contradicting theories connect the runner’s high to specific biological mechanisms. The endorphin-opioid theory claims the interactions between endorphins and opiate receptors are responsible for the reduced pain and intense euphoria. Additionally, the theory may be connected to exercise addiction in certain individuals. The endocannabinoid theory takes a different approach and declares that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for the runner’s high. Endocannabinoids produce the calmness and reduced sensitivity to pain after a long run. The intensity of the exercise also affects the level of endocannabinoids released in the brain. Overall, the runner’s high depends on the experience of the individual. Keywords: runner’s high, endorphin, opioid, endocannabinoid, exercise addiction