Be the most informed person in the room with Newsy's free e-newsletter

View our privacy policy:

'Runner's High' Is More Than Endorphins

Researchers have discovered the hormone leptin affects our motivation to run and contributes to the euphoria we feel.

It's no secret that exercise makes you feel better. Your brain releases endorphins during prolonged physical movement that give you a sense of euphoria. Well, researchers out of the University of Montreal say endorphins aren't the only reason you feel happy at the end of your jog. (Video via The White House)

In a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers say the hormone leptin also impacts how you feel while running. 

Leptin helps control your body's energy and is credited with telling your brain when your stomach is or isn't full. Research shows your leptin levels fall when you run, which makes you feel hungry. In response, your body releases dopamine and with it, a jolt of happiness — commonly referred to as a "runner's high." (Video via Running Number)

The researchers experimented with two sets of mice — one normal group and one genetically modified with a lack of protein STAT3. STAT3 activates the leptin signal in neurons that release dopamine. The normal mice ran about 6 kilometers, or roughly 3.7 miles, a day. But the leptin-lacking mice nearly doubled that, logging 11 kilometers, or about 6.8 miles, per day. (Video via Kit Menke)

One of the theories behind this is when food is scarce, people will go running in search of it. 

Lead researcher Stephanie Fulton said, "The more fat there is, the more leptin there is and and the less we feel like eating. Our findings now show that this hormone also plays a vital role in motivation to run. ... Lower leptin levels increase running performance and promotes the 'runner’s high.'"

Simply put, the lower the leptin levels, the higher the motivation to run — possibly to the nearest grocery store or fast-food place.   

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

Featured Stories
Flowers and candles are placed outside the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Suspect In The Istanbul New Year's Eve Nightclub Attack Confesses

Relatives of passengers who were on the missing MH370 flight.

Relatives Of Missing MH370 Passengers Face Suspended Search Efforts

Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell in "A Night at the Roxbury."

When It Comes To Numbers For Women In Film, It Might As Well Be 1998

Want to see more stories like this?
Like Newsy on Facebook for More Sci/Health Coverage