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What the Health: Runner’s high

Fact or fiction?
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NOOR NAQAWEH/THE VARSITY
NOOR NAQAWEH/THE VARSITY

People often wonder if runner’s high is a mere myth or an actual effect of rhythmic, long distance running. For all the people that may be in the middle of the road about wanting to feel this mythical sensation, there is in fact some science behind it. 

In an article written by WebMD, Heather Hatfield interviewed a former president of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists, Jesse Pittsley, who described runner’s high as a feeling of “euphoria, a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running.”  

While people may be explaining the wonders behind runner’s high, President and Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise Cedric Bryant believes that the feeling is nothing but a mere fraud. “While our circular levels of endorphins might be up, whether that impacts a person’s psychological outlook output directly is probably not that likely.”  

So to conclude, although people may describe this wonderful feeling of runner’s high, realistically, it is likely just a myth in the running community. Scientifically, there is no real change to a person’s body other than a rise in endorphins.

If you are a reader that is on the fence about giving it a go, my recommendation is to try it anyway! Any form of physical exercise is bound to be beneficial whether you experience runner’s high or not. Who knows? Maybe these runners know something science can’t explain.