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Redefining the Runner's High

It’s not just for runners anymore.

Ahhhh, the elusive runner’s high… We’ve all heard about it, but with only a small portion of self-proclaimed “runners” in the world, it may seem out of reach to most. So, is the runner’s high only for an exclusive club of very fit people? The answer is NO. The truth is, all it takes is a little push and some heart-pumping exercise. Chances are, you’ve already experienced it yourself!

You can actually trigger a runner’s high without even running. The euphoric feeling can also come from a tough HIIT workout like Body Back or even from moderate intensity aerobic exercise like the kind you get at Stroller Strides. It might take 30 minutes or it might take 2 hours and there’s no hard and fast rule for running or any other kind of exercise. One thing is for sure though, you have to push yourself and limit rest between exercises. If you don’t feel it the first time, keep trying and push yourself a little harder until it clicks.

What does that click feel like? The runner’s high is different for everyone and varies from day to day. It’s often described as a rush of feel-good chemicals that ignite euphoria and act as a natural painkiller, masking tired legs and sore arms. It can also feel like a surge of energy, heightened awareness and an incredible feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever experienced these feelings after a tough workout (or during the workout), then welcome to the club. Not so elusive after all…

If you think that’s cool, the actual science behind the runner’s high is pretty awesome as well. As you know, endorphins are released when you exercise, but those endorphins are just part of the reason you feel amazing after class. Your body may also be pumping out endocannabinoids, which is -- you guessed it -- a naturally synthesized version of THC, the chemical responsible for the high that marijuana produces. The same mechanism that triggers endorphins can also trigger endocannabinoids when you exercise by spiking the primary stress hormone, cortisol.

Here’s a helpful tip: Aim to workout at 70 to 85 percent of your age-adjusted heart rate and you’re on the road to a natural, biological “high” that was likely an asset to our ancestor’s survival when chasing down food. So, if you really want the full experience, make sure you come to class, give it your all and then hunt down a healthy meal on your way home.

Want to experience some euphoric feelings for yourself? Try a Body Back Community Class this week!