I've blogged in the past about my love for running and how I try to make time for it, no matter how busy life gets. My husband is very supportive of my passion and is willing to watch the kids or do whatever I need in order for me to fit my run in for the day. He knows it means a lot to me, but also says my mood is often very different after a run than it was when I headed out the door. He jokes that running is my drug of choice, and now new research shows he might be right.
Researchers at Tufts University studied rats, dividing them into active and non-active groups (also further dividing them into groups that had food for one hour per day, versus having 24-hour access to food.) After several weeks of study, the rats were all given a drug to produce withdrawal symptoms from opiates. The active rats showed more withdrawal symptoms than the inactive ones.
The study, published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, concluded that an intense running regime in rats released the same brain chemicals that promote the sense of euphoria and well-being that opiates do. According to the researchers, "Somewhere during a longer, more intense run when stored glycogen is depleted, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus release endorphins that can provide that 'second wind' that keeps a runner going." The hope is that this research can be used to design treatment programs for drug addicts--instead of getting high from drugs, they can get a natural high from running instead.
As with any other activity, some days I have good runs and some days I have not-so-good runs. There are days when I can't wait to finish, and days when I had just a little more time to push myself a little further. Although I can't say I get the "runner's high" very often, the way running makes me feel in general is enough to make me want to keep going.
Are you in a better mood after a run or other kind of workout? Have you ever experienced the "runner's high" you hear people talk about? What is that like for you?
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