Thursday, March 27, 2008

Endorphins Fuel The Swoosh

From today's New York Times, an article entitled Yes, Running Can Make You High, which proves what many of us runners already knew: the runner's high actually exist and it's fueled by endorphins.

A pain researcher in Germany used pre- and post-run PET scans to study endorphin binding in the brains of ten long distance runners. They also did psychological tests to measure mood states before and after a two hour run. They found that endorphins bound to the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, and that the amount of binding correlated with elevated mood. The research subjects were blind to the purpose of the study.

Just something to think about the next time you lace up the Nikes.

6 comments:

Dinah said...

Two hours???? Oy. I tell my patients to exercise for 45 minutes and they look at me funny.

I know depressed marathon runners. Overall, however, I'd guess that most people with depression don't have the energy for long distance running and so it's a group that's biased away from being depressed, and that directionality would be hard to determine.

Might make an interesting controlled study. Let's get a group of depressed, non-exercisers, stick em on a treadmill for 2 hours and see if they get better.

I'll watch and eat M& Ms

cellar door said...

And I'm sidelined with plantar fasciitis and my Brooks are staring balefully at me from across the room. Feh.

As someone with recurrent major depression that isn't responsive to much in the way of medical intervention, I can say that exercise helps, but does not bring on full remission. The most annoying part is that when I am deep in an episode and manage to drag myself out to run, I don't get the runner's high no matter how far I go. I can feel the effects in my muscles and lungs, but psychologically I just feel sweaty, slightly sore, and depressed. It rather chaps my hindquarters.

Sarebear said...

Nice post, Clink.

I worked up my courage and called Dr. A. on his show. It was fun! And they all insisted I didn't sound like a dork. Oh, and my dd said Hi too, and waved. Well, you can't see HER waving, but you can see Dr. A waving back. And you can hear her saying Hi.

It was a fun show (and not "just" because I was in it, hee hee).

TherapyPatient said...

As a former runner, my observation is that it does NOT take 2 hours to produce endorphines. Now that I am 56 years old and walk instead of run, I STILL find that after 1/2 hour of walking I get a similar sensation to "runner's high" so my guess is that it does not take nearly the intensity nor the time that was used in this study. However, there is the chance that just being outdoors helps to bouy the spirit. I have not tried it but a depressed friend who cannot put out the energy to run has told me she finds relief from depression in sitting outside in a lawn chair in the sun.

doctorpinkfreud said...

Speaking of pain research, several years back, a study was conducted examining the relationship between depression and pain perception. Two groups were utilized; a group of individuals Dx with MDD and a control Gx. All subjects were stuck in a finger with a lancet. Depressed subjects rated the pain as more intense.

Michelle J said...

I'm a runner and bipolar! My running elates me even if i just run a couple of miles! I find my moods on a much more even keel since i started running so this to me is priceless!!!
Michelle