Before I started running, I viewed joggers as crazed masochists, who found pleasure in a particularly cruel form of torture. It seemed that they regularly took part in an activity that sucked the breath out of them, sent streams of sweat dripping down their bodies and pounded their feet painfully into the pavement. It sounded horrible. And then, I started jogging and became, like so many before me, addicted. Yes, the initial attempts were far from enjoyable, but as I improved, I discovered the various joys of running, one of which is the runner’s high.
When a runner exerts himself, subjecting his body to vigorous cardiovascular exercise, opioids are released into his system. The morphine-like substances turn a potentially joyless act into a feel-good time. The jogger experiences the runner’s high. The same occurs in any cardiovascular exercise. When the body hits a certain point mid-workout, endorphins rush through it improving the nature of the experience and, according to a recent study, heart health as well. Researchers at the University of Iowa tested the effects of vigorous exercise on two groups of rats. In the first, the opioids were blocked, and the rodents saw none of the cardiovascular benefits regularly associated with exercise. However, the second group, whose endorphins flowed freely, did. The findings help pinpoint which aspects of exercise are truly benefiting the body and help steer you to an appropriate workout.
Which would be running . . .
Or any act similar. The runner’s high is not restricted to runners. Opioids are released regardless of exercise type. It’s a matter, then, of getting to that point and that means really breaking a sweat, pushing your body and making your workout count. If you exercise vigorously, you will reap the rewards. If you think running is the best way for you to do that, make sure you do so safely. Advice is available everywhere, but it’s mainly all the same. Start slow, stay smart and stretch.