Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Running lore verified? (Or yes, there is really a runners' high)

Came across this article in the New York Times, headlined, "Yes, Running Can Make You High "In it, it outlines a study done in the journal Cerebral Cortex and says "the folk belief is true"

Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.

Leading endorphin researchers not associated with the study said they accepted its findings.

“Impressive,” said Dr. Solomon Snyder, a neuroscience professor at Johns Hopkins and a discoverer of endorphins in the 1970’s.

The study looked at 10 distance runners and measured endorphins before and after a long run of about two hours. According to the Times:

The data showed that, indeed, endorphins were produced during running and were attaching themselves to areas of the brain associated with emotions, in particular the limbic and prefrontal areas.

The limbic and prefrontal areas, Dr. Boecker said, are activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs or, he said, “when you hear music that gives you a chill of euphoria, like Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.” The greater the euphoria the runners reported, the more endorphins in their brain.

And this finding I've never really heard before, but apparently they are going to study whether pain tolerance increases. (Maybe this explains why the hurt felt at the beginning of a run starts to fade -- for me this happens after about 5 miles)

In a follow-up study, Dr. Boecker is investigating if running affects pain perception. “There are studies that showed enhanced pain tolerance in runners,” he said. “You have to give higher pain stimuli before they say, ‘O.K., this hurts.’ ”
So the next time you tell a non-runner you ran an 18 miler, and they respond by asking whether you're crazy, you can just say, yeah, and I'm also high on endorphins...


Sonia said...

I was certain there was some biochemistry to back up this high feeling lol

Good luck on Sunday! I will be at Copps Coliseum in section 122 around 8:45 if you have a chance to stop by!

yumke said...

Thanks Sonia. Hopefully I'll see ya. How does the section thing work? Is that a staging area before the race?