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Runner’s High and Reducing Anxiety

Many people have experienced Runner’s High, after they run for a couple of miles on a medium speed, either in gym or in nature. It is a brief, deeply relaxing state of euphoria, which means a sense of extreme joy or delight. At that point, people do not feel tired and they feel they can run another several miles easily.

Runner’s High is not caused by Endorphins, because Endorphins are large molecules compared with other chemicals in the body, and their large size prevents them from crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is the impediment in the body that keeps your brain safe from certain pathogens. It is something else that has caused Runner’s High.

So currently this research is still on-going but scientists consider it to be Endocannabinoid. These molecules are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier.

A type of endocannabinoid called Anandamide is found at high levels in the blood of people who’ve recently completed a run. Some research suggests anandamide may trigger a runner’s high. This results in short-term psychoactive effects like: euphoria; reduced anxiety; increased calmness. This has been confirmed in mice but the result in humans is still being researched.

The good news for people who suffer severe mental health problems is, if their physical function is not impaired, and if they can go running, the benefits running can give to them are enormous. The other benefits of running include:

  • reduced anxiety

  • reduced feelings of depression

  • increased memory and focus

  • increased flexibility and improved mobility

  • increased immune system

  • improved response to insulin

  • weight loss or maintenance

However, more vulnerable people whose mental problems have already affected their mobility, need to be very careful to take on this exercises because it may cause physical harm to them, for example if they run outside, there may be risk of car accident if they have low concentration level; or if they run on treadmill or in gym, there may be breathing problems. Vulnerable people are advised to consult their doctors before taking on running. However, running is beneficial to improve mental health if it suits your physical and mental status.

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