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Photo by Nathan Rupert - via Flickr

The claim is as follows:

A publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called "runner's high", which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen. During a release of endorphins the person may be exposed to bodily harm from strenuous bodily functions after going past his or her body's physical limit. This means that runners can keep running despite pain, continuously surpassing what they once considered to be their limit.[citation needed]

Note the nice [citation needed] :-)

A two-part question:

  • Does the runner's high exist?
  • A lot of joggers claim to achieve it: is it possible to get the runner's high by running up to an hour?
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    Anecdotal evidence: yes, it’s very real – and very simple to experience oneself. Not sure if “mere” jogging is enough to cause it but running is. – Konrad Rudolph May 12 '11 at 20:31
  • An hour is really not enough. I used to run that much at least twice a week and didn't get high from it. – Lagerbaer May 12 '11 at 20:37
  • So - who's unreliable here? :-) – Sklivvz May 12 '11 at 20:41
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    I don't get "high" from running an hour, but I do get a little bit of a euphoric "I could run all day" kind of feeling during and slightly after a long hard stent. From what I understand there are varying degrees for various amounts of effort in various people... so it's largely individual, an hour may be enough for some but not for others. – Nathan Wheeler May 13 '11 at 0:55
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    I was never one for running but I used to swim about 8 km a day for 10 years and there was a definite high. And notably, it didn't diminish over the years as you'd expect the high from a heroin habit to diminish over a similar period. – user2466 May 13 '11 at 7:30
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Yes, runner's high has been proven to exist. This happened just a few years ago, in an article published in the publication Cerebral Cortex called The Runner’s High: Opioidergic Mechanisms in the Human Brain in February 2008. The publication is owned by the Oxford University Press.

This is still relatively new science, but according to this article in the New York Times, leading endorphin researchers are on board with the findings stated in the study.

The researchers involved tested 10 runners pre-run, and 2 hours into the run using PET scans. They did not determine whether or not runner's high could be achieved in a shorter duration of exercise. According to this WikiHow answer, runner's high can be achieved in 30-45 minutes, but there is some debate on the validity of some of WikiHow's articles.

If you want more info on running and some of the running-related phenomena (myths and facts) check out some of the running questions over at the Fitness & Nutrition site.

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