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Runner's High Is as Addictive as Opiates

Runner's High Is as Addictive as Opiates

If you're a runner, you're probably familiar with runner's high. You know — that energetic, overwhelmingly awesome feeling you experience after a workout that makes you feel like the happiest person alive. The feel-good sensations come when endorphins are released from your brain, and new research shows that a runner's high mimics the same sense of euphoria as drug use. So scientists at Tufts University set out to test whether the feeling a runner gets could be considered an addiction.

Instead of testing actual runners, the scientists tested rats. The 84 rodents were divided into two types of cages, ones with wheels and ones without. Over a week, the rats that had access to the wheel naturally increased how much they ran. On day nine, about half the group was only given access to food for one hour per day, while the others continued to have food all the time. The food-restricted rats began exercising even more, and also started to lose weight. All the rats were then given the drug Naloxone, a chemical compound that is often used to help drug abusers recover from addiction and immediately causes withdrawal symptoms. The biggest "gym rats" showed the greatest degree of withdrawal symptoms, while rats that couldn't exercise displayed fewer withdrawal symptoms.

The scientists concluded that the release of chemicals during exercise mimics the sensations morphine and heroin users feel. If a runner's high is similar to a high brought on by drugs, the researchers propose that exercise could be used as a replacement "drug" to help drug addicts recover. What do you think?

Image Source: Getty
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sparklestar sparklestar 6 years
OHHH YEAH. I feel healthier, tighter and ready to go on days I've run. I really feel it when I don't.
dianadilettante dianadilettante 7 years
I don't feel anything after jogging, or my sports training. Am I weird?
cg130 cg130 7 years
That would be really cool if this worked on humans!
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I believe it. Once I started running, I was able to completely get off my antidepressants and I felt a lot better than I have in years. I kind of started to wonder why I hadn't started running earlier, but better late than never.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I wish I was into running, but I can't stand it. I'll stick to other cardio for now :(
MariahGem MariahGem 7 years
OMG WHY can't I like running??? I mean, this is almost like, an incentive to running! I can't imagine too many people get addicted, but You sure could get more people to exercise by telling them they'll get high from running.I just can't get over the fact that the only exercise that I truly hate (running) is the only one that makes you feel high. Not fair.
MariahGem MariahGem 7 years
OMG WHY can't I like running??? I mean, this is almost like, an incentive to running! I can't imagine too many people get addicted, but You sure could get more people to exercise by telling them they'll get high from running. I just can't get over the fact that the only exercise that I truly hate (running) is the only one that makes you feel high. Not fair.
hottpink hottpink 7 years
First of all rats are different then humans and second, people shouldn't test on animals to begin with. But yes, I do think a runner's high can be addictive.
hottpink hottpink 7 years
First of all rats are different then humans and second, people shouldn't test on animals to begin with. But yes, I do think a runner's high can be addictive.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
I feel like absolute crap when I don't exercise for a few days. I get anxious and depressed. Though I felt like that before I started exercising, I think due to the hormones in my bc. I probably feel worse now when I don't exercise than I did before though. I can't really function normally.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 7 years
I hate when they use rats for "human" tests. Anywho yes runners high is *very* addictive!!
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 7 years
I have competed in Cross Country and track all through college and trained for a marathon, and I'm not sure I ever experienced a runners high. On days when I felt good during my run and/or had a good workout or race then I felt happy and elated, but that's more performance oriented. If I don't run for a few days I start to feel worse, but that's because I'm afraid I am gaining weight.While I often feel better after a run, I rarely feel super happy or super good.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 7 years
I have competed in Cross Country and track all through college and trained for a marathon, and I'm not sure I ever experienced a runners high. On days when I felt good during my run and/or had a good workout or race then I felt happy and elated, but that's more performance oriented. If I don't run for a few days I start to feel worse, but that's because I'm afraid I am gaining weight. While I often feel better after a run, I rarely feel super happy or super good.
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