Runner's Mood

Runners will usually feel good after running, something we typically call, “runner’s high.”  Those same runners can invariably feel not so good after not being able to run.  Whether it is from a time constraint, family obligations or work, these other factors can dampen the athlete's mood.  This can make runner’s feel “groggy” or “irritable.”  Well, there is a reason for this.  A journal article in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA in 2015 stated that they looked at two blood levels in the body that are responsible for altering this “runner’s high” feeling.  One is your B-endorphin (an opioid) levels and the other an anandamide (an endocannabinoid).  Some of the feelings you may get after running that were noted are anxiolysis and analgesia, or simply put, less anxiety and less pain. 

Another journal article, Aersp Med Hum Perform, in 2017 noted that moderate intensity bouts of running may be a potent stimulant for improving cognitive function than low-intensity exercise.  Mood state was measured as well and they concluded this was significantly improved as a result of this exercise. 

Overall, good news for runners on two fronts.  For one, the notion of “runner’s high” is a sensation and feeling that has some credence when looking at the biochemistry side of it.  Secondly, runner’s will love to hear what they are doing has some validity.  It is not often that we see runners in a “bad mood.”  So keep running, and run often!

Giuseppe Giovatto Jr, DC, DACBSP®, CSCS

Bergen Spine and Sport, LLC;;

Working with triathletes since 2007, working with sports medicine in Kona, HI, Panama City Beach, FL and Sarasota, FL with Ironman and USAT elite and professionals. Also on the medical advisory board for a US National Governing Body. 

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