View Full Version : "Runner's High" and endorphins

01-10-09, 02:17 AM
Hello everyone,

Today I completed a 1 hour powerwalk at the park, and couldn't help notice the extreme amount of euphoria/well-being after the walk, which wipes out ADD symptoms for at least a couple of hours. (I also lift weights regularly.. but I seem to get more of the high feeling after running/long walk).

I was wondering if everyone experiences this? I get this relaxing feeling in my head (kind a thumping feeling in my head?) which makes me a bit more talkative and I seem to think more clearly, and really just overall makes me feel great and my ADD symptoms seem to disappear. The feeling is much better than being on Adderall (and I can socialize normally without sputtering out **** and working like a freakin robot).

I am purely speculating on this, but maybe people who don't have ADD get this great feeling less (after a workout)? I am going to start exercising more often.. and try to do so multiple times a day. I'm actually kinda excited.. I'll be taking less meds. :cool:

Anyone have thoughts on this? Experiences, advice, stories, etc. please. :)

Just as a side note, I also get a similar feeling (not nearly as intense) after popping an omega-3 fish oil pill in the morning.

<!-- start main body --> Consistent and vigorous exercise provides a myriad of benefits, especially for the person with ADD/ADHD. John Ratey, M.D., and Edward Hallowell, M.D., the authors of Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood, speculated that if a person with ADD/ADHD were able to exercise vigorously several times a day, medication might not be needed.

Exercise juices the brain with the blood nutrient glucose, which counteracts the absorption rate deficiency shown in brain imaging studies of people with ADD/ADHD. Lowered levels of dopamine and serotonin are associated with ADD/ADHD; exercise boosts production of these neurotransmitters, as well as endorphins, the brain chemical noted for producing the "runner's high."

Research has documented that people with ADD/ADHD have below-normal levels of blood flow and electrical activity in the frontal areas of the brain, which govern focus and concentration. Exercise increases blood flow by augmenting the number and density of blood vessels in these areas.

Additional benefits: exercise increases self-esteem and alleviates mild-to-moderate depression.

01-10-09, 03:21 AM
I have felt the endorphin rush before.
When I am running consistently, it takes me about 2-3 miles before things really kick in and feel like I can run forever.

When I lived up in Fairbanks, Alaska, I easily survived the winters because I went out and stayed active:I snowshoed, cross-country skied, etc.

I learned as an adult that to help me with school, I needed a P.E. class in the morning.
At UAF, I pretty much just took swimming. The instructor at the time made up some really great workouts... grueling sometimes, but fun mostly.

Here in the Golden State, I have been taking a running/aerobic fitness class for several semesters, weight-lifting, and swimming several years ago when the pool was open.
I also try to ride my bike to school, which is about a 10 mile trip with a BIG hill to go up-and-down.
Mostly, I just do the p.e. classes though.

I do have a Concept II model C rower now and I love using that thing.
I'll be working up some programs for that once I've used it a bit.

So.. yep, exercise is a great thing for helping me cope with my ADD/HD, but it doesn't do what my Concerta is doing currently.

01-10-09, 05:49 AM
Very interesting. Will revisit this thread.
I think most normals also experience endorphins. But ADD more so? Very very interesting.
Anyone into the chemical nature of endorphins? I would be happy to hear from you.

01-10-09, 10:13 AM
From what I understand, exercise releases dopamine in the brain, something we ADDers lack. It makes me feel a lot better. That's why my husband, mADD mike, started the ADD Forums Get Fit Club. We have many people that have noted a difference after exercising. It clears my mind some. He gets a lot from it too.

The Get Fit Club is found down in the Exercise forum.

01-10-09, 10:26 AM
If you weren't aware of it, Ratey wrote an entire book about. Spark.

I highly recommend.

01-11-09, 05:33 AM
Hey Grafter, I can't seem to get that book open... care to send me a hardcopy? :p

Actually, I was in two different book store and just couldn't remember the title of the book.
I need to put it in my Touch so I'll have it next time.

Oh, and I really miss Austin.
I lived there twice back in the 80's... drove ambulance, cab, worked in a machine shop, as a laborer/welder putting in all those deep shafts for the new water treatment facility, alarm installer, and for an information research company... I think that's it.

I hear it's been changing over the years.

01-11-09, 04:16 PM
If you weren't aware of it, Ratey wrote an entire book about.

I highly recommend.

Book has been purchased, thanks. :)

01-12-09, 03:44 PM
I like to hike and recently joined a group class called body pump. I have not had that runner's high for over a year now. Sometimes I get just a touch of it but nothing like I used to. I wonder if it's because I have fibromyalgia too. Or maybe I need to increase my cardio more. Interesting. But hey, when I work out I do feel better. I used to just feel tired afterwards. I know it is good for me.

01-12-09, 04:11 PM
I am completely addicted to Zumba, it is a 60 minute high intensity cardio dance rountine. I usually do it four nights a week.

The euphoria is intense, and it just keeps getting better. I have hours of energy afterward, and it relieves my stress better than any massage, or muscle relaxer.
I am so happy and spirited after my workout, that I truly miss it if I have to skip it.

Plus I have lost a ton of weight....YIPPEE!

01-12-09, 04:17 PM
The trick is scheduling some useful tasks to do right after your workout. You have about 3 hours of extreme brainpower in you afterwards, the first hour being the most intense (for me at least). So it's very similar to taking a dose of meds.

I wonder if you can grow a tolerance to the "runner's high" if you keep taking doses (keep exercising) everyday continuously.

Garbanzo Dude
01-12-09, 06:12 PM
I have also felt it before also..I was introduced to it by friend that overcame a cocaine addiction and is now a daily power runner...however, I can tell you what the "true" high feels like is out of this world.....I would the say the profound effect that it has can last more than a few hours....for me it can last for more than a day. the trouble is to get that really need to have a ton of time all the time, cause it takes more than 2 hours of running to get there....and for that reason, for our daily lives medication seems to be the better answer for now.

And there are many books out on it....I think I even saw a university study on it in a mens magazine.

01-12-09, 08:48 PM
I am into weight lifting, which I typically do 6 times a week. If I miss a day, I feel a bit lethargic...

Granted, anaerobic exercise does not release quite the amount of endorphins that running 6 or 7 miles or running will, but unlike anaerobic exercise, weight lifting stimulates the production of testosterone, which has its own mood enhancing properties...

01-12-09, 08:52 PM
6 days a week...very impressive.

I do strength training three days..and the high is nowhere near the intensity.

I will admit to getting up early Sunday..just to go and do the elliptical...OK...we all know how obsessive I am.

The natural endorphins will never be tolerated.
They are produced NEW each power on...
You know you love it!

01-13-09, 01:46 AM
I am convinced that the primary reason that my ADHD went undiagnosed for 41 years is that I was an athlete. I played soccer or ran cross-country and track in elementary, junior high, high school, and college. And I continued to run through law school and working. It started to drop off in the last few years because I have exercise-induced asthma. I started running again after going on leave from my former law firm and asking my allergist to prescribe an inhaled steroid. It really helped my ADHD to run again.

Having said that, running does not normally give me a "high." It just allows me to focus in a way that stimulant medications do not. Stimulants have a little too much "lift" to them, even in small doses. I hate the jaw clenching. Running allows for a more mellow focus.

I can think of one time that I felt that runner's high very distinctly. It was in a race, and I surged to the front to help out a teammate who was coming off of an injury. I lost track of her down a stretch where there was a lot of wind in our faces. So I didn't know that I'd left her behind. To quote the coach, I ran way, way, WAY above my training. It was effortless. Every time I picked up the pace a little voice in the back of my head said "It's too early. You're going to regret this." And yet every time I had another opportunity to pick it up, I picked up the pace more. I was more than 400 meters ahead of the next runner when I finished. And I finished without being out of breath. It was quite the experience... :D

01-13-09, 08:18 AM
I *totally* get this. I absolutely need the mind-clearing effect from a bike ride or run. I lift weights as well, but it doesn't have the same mental effect.

I either run or bike or do something aerobic & strenuous every day. If the weather is too bad to do it outside, I'll run on a treadmill or do Spinning class. If I go more than a day or two without it, I get very irritable and foggy-minded.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the recent upswing in ADHD diagnoses has to do with the general decline of physical activity for both adults and children. I mean, ADHD is obviously a real phenomenon -- but for a lot of us who are "borderline," having a high level of daily physical activity can make the difference between "normal but a little spacey sometimes" and "needs medication to function."

01-14-09, 01:48 AM
I get that too, but only from cardio (if I dont sweat buckets and wind up puffing and blowing to get my breath back at the end it doesnt happen for me)

Workouts rock!

03-04-09, 10:31 AM
I totally get the "high." I don't get it as much from lifting, but from running or a hard bike ride...yeah!

The times in my life when my ADD caused the least amount of complications were when I had the opportunity to be really active. I used to go to the gym every morning before work, religiously - - if I missed a day I was crabby and foggy-minded all day. If I had a good hard workout, I was a powerhouse at work.

Even after my first baby was born, I was out walking (and later, running) with her in the stroller -- about six miles a day! lol! We were ALWAYS out for our walks, she loved the motion and I loved how much calmer I was afterwards.

My second baby, alas, hated motion and would scream the whole time. So I couldn't go out for walks with her and bang! postpartum depression, ADD fog, unhappy mama...

My third baby also hated motion, but by then I realized the connection between physical activity and mental health, so I told my husband he could deal with her for an hour so I could go out for a run! And I had not a touch of depression with her.

My husband is borderline ADHD, but he doesn't medicate. He is able to cope because his job is very flexible and he can mountain bike, rock climb, or play Ultimate Frisbee every day during lunch. On days when he doesn't get out for any of out! caged beast alert! He is like a bad dog that has to be let out to run and run and run and run or else he'll grown and snap at everyone!