What is runner’s high and how is it produced?

The feeling of joy and well-being that appears after intense physical activity is possible for any athlete. Discover the most important details of this state of mind.

Last update: 08 October, 2021

You may experience a sense of pleasure and well-being during or after an intense exercise routine. This is the state known as runner’s euphoria, a effect generated after the release of certain hormones associated with these sensations.

Many people choose running as the primary physical exercise in their routines. The practice of running brings numerous benefits to the body, such as muscular or cardiovascular improvements. But also, a sustained journey for a certain period of time can lead to that euphoric situation.

However, it is not so easy to achieve. Each organism experiences it at different times and in different ways. It is unlikely to happen before 30 minutes or 8 kilometers of travel.

Once the runner’s euphoria is entered, the energy is renewed, helping to combat fatigue, stress and anxiety.

How to Identify Runner’s Euphoria

Euphoria is a feeling of extreme joy. A high increase in optimism and mood, produced naturally by the body. The hormones associated with these feelings are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.

When exercising with a certain intensity, the body releases these molecules as a way to combat stress and pain. For this reason, if the runner’s euphoria was experienced, it is possible that discomfort and fatigue after the day will be relieved, like a natural pain reliever.

Some athletes claim to have more energy at the end of the exercise than before starting. Even when crossing certain barriers imposed by fatigue, it is common to feel that the physique can give more, even after having traveled several kilometers.

Why does the runner’s euphoria occur?

For a long time this symptom was associated with the release of hormones, especially endorphins. Nevertheless, not all scientific studies indicate the same. Some emphasize other types of molecules and it is argued that the psychological aspect is the most important.

The feeling of well-being is associated with the release of hormones, but also with the psychological aspects of exercise.


Usually, runner’s euphoria is associated with the release of endorphins, hormones produced by the pituitary gland. These molecules act in the same sector of the brain as opioids, generating a feeling of happiness.

In the case of running, the body responds to an extreme physical demand, releasing secretions that calm tiredness and muscle fatigue. However, this does not happen to all people in the same way. There are even those who never get to experience it.

The running prehistoric

Another theory highlights the importance of the evolutionary aspect in the existence of the runner’s euphoria. It is indicated that the obligation to run that the ancestors of human beings had was forming a natural reward for survival.

The physical demand was oriented to find food or escape predators. Therefore, to encourage this behavior, the body generated reward systems that produced happiness and relief from fatigue.


Recent studies contrast the importance of endorphins with that of other substances, such as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids they are released by intense physical exercise and produce a feeling of tranquility, in addition to reducing anxiety.

Psychological aspect

On the other hand, there are those who give greater importance to psychological and motivational issues over chemical ones. It is argued that, while better results are generated thanks to physical work, the more the desire to continue with the routine increases. This effect is so strong that it can even lead to psychological dependence on running or to any physical activity.

It is not easy to identify when such a healthy practice is causing problems. But those who form an excessive submission to exercise, even leaving aside social and work life, may find themselves in that vicious circle.

How is the euphoria of the runner achieved?

As already mentioned, it is not an easy state to achieve that of the euphoria of the runner. Nevertheless, there are some techniques that can contribute to your search.

First of all, it is important to do a warm-up beforehand, since the following is an intense routine, prepared for those who have experience in this regard. It is important to start gradually to avoid injury.

Proper equipment, whether in clothing or footwear, is another aspect to take into account. Also practice the running on suitable surfaces is another way to reduce risks, as well as to set achievable personal goals.

Start with slow but steady steps, then gradually build up to a brisk trot. You may feel a general physical fatigue during the first few minutes, especially if it is not a regular routine. If the constancy is maintained and that stage is overcome, it is time to accelerate the pace.

After running for a few minutes, it is advisable to decrease the intensity at times, while the body continues to produce endorphins. The euphoria of the corridor is near. Some people say they feel it after 6 or 7 kilometers traveled. If it is achieved, it is possible to feel a new burst of energy, which helps to continue the race for a while longer.

Some runners report that euphoria allows them to lengthen their routine and feel less tired to complete more kilometers.

Other benefits of running

Beyond getting or not getting the feeling of euphoria from the runner, the running It is a form of exercise that provides multiple benefits to the body:

  • Reduces anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • It contributes to the increase of memory and focus.
  • Improves flexibility and mobility.
  • Maintains or reduces body weight.
  • It prevents cardiovascular disorders.

It is always better to run accompanied

Sometimes, it can be motivating to go for a run in a group. For many people who find it difficult to get started, it is easier to do it together. On the other hand, if you do not have that option, listening to music is another alternative that provides.

Anyway, the running It is not the only exercise that can cause the euphoria of the runner, although it is associated with his name. Almost any aerobic activity, such as swimming or cycling, is a way to achieve it.

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