Scientists may have discovered the reason behind the ‘runner’s high’ sensation. A new study published by Cell Metabolism found that running-induced endorphins stem from leptin, a fat cell-derived hormone that helps control the feeling of satiety and lessens hunger.
New Research May Explain Runner’s High
The research suggests that a decrease in leptin levels results in a hunger signal being sent to the brain’s pleasure centre to generate the rewarding effects of running. Put simply, low levels of leptin increase the motivation to exercise and make it easier to achieve a runner’s high.
Senior study author, Stephanie Fulton of the University of Montreal, said: “We became interested in understanding the rewarding effects of running, also known as the runners’ high. It's well known that animals, including humans, find running rewarding.
“Based on these findings, we think that a fall in leptin levels increases motivation for physical activity as a means to enhance exploration and the pursuit of food. Our study also suggests that people with lower fat-adjusted leptin levels, such as high-performance marathon runners, could potentially be more susceptible to the rewarding effects of running and thus possibly more inclined to exercise.”
Though low leptin levels have previously been associated with exercise addiction and fast marathon times, this is the first time they have been linked with the euphoric feeling many runners have. To read more about the study click here