The ‘runner’s high’

If we haven’t experienced it, we’ve heard all about it from our fitness fanatic friends. “You won’t believe how good you’ll feel after working out… it’s like a drug, yada yada yada.” The thing is, it is true, but new research is showing that at least part of the exercise high is derived from the person’s own state of mind. This would explain the fact that some people just can’t seem to keep their “exercise high” to themselves. Researchers writing in a recent issue of Health Psychology magazine report that the high some people feel may be related to their sense of mastery over their exercise routines. The research shows that increasing people’s self-confidence about exercise may encourage them to stick to their exercise programs.

Researchers at the University of Illinois divided 46 “low-active” women into two random groups. None of the young women exercised more than once a week. They were all given fitness tests, and regardless of the results, one group was told they had excellent fitness results, while the other was told that they were below average.

They were asked to exercise again several days later, and each won was reminded of her previous “results”. The study found that the women who believed they’d done well the first time responded far more positively than the women who were told they’d done poorly.

The upshot? You can improve your exercise experience (and your “high”) if your program gives you information that enhances your self-confidence. Which means you’ll go back for more exercise, tell all your friends how great it feels…