Can a Workout Get You High?

Can a Workout Get You High?

It’s a question that’s been asked for years, and there’s finally an answer.

According to a recent study, the endorphins released during a strenuous workout can indeed produce a “high.”


The concept that a workout can get you high — literally — has been around for centuries. Known as the “runner’s high,” it refers to the feeling of intense euphoria and pleasant physical sensations experienced after an intense workout. While past research studies have suggested that runner’s high is caused by an increase in certain hormones, particularly endorphins, more recent evidence suggests something else.

Recent research shows that while endorphins may play a role in runner’s high, the main factor appears to be an increase in cannabinoids, which are psychoactive compounds similar to those found in cannabis. In addition to giving you the feeling of being “high”, these compounds also act on the body’s pain circuits and enhance performance by helping you tolerate discomfort better and push yourself harder during workouts. This is why athletes often use cannabis before a competition or tough workout — for better performance and quicker recovery.

While it may seem counterintuitive that exercise can get you high, science supports it: if you put in enough work at the gym (or elsewhere), your body naturally rewards you with cannabinoids (and maybe a bit of an endorphin rush). But how do you know when it’s happening? Read on to learn all about runner’s high and how to achieve it—the natural way!

The Science Behind Exercise-Induced Euphoria

Exercise-induced euphoria (EIE) is the feeling of intense joy and pleasure that some people experience after engaging in physical exercise. It is also referred to as a “runner’s high” or “exercise high”. This feeling can be induced by any type of physical activity, including running, swimming, weight-training, even walking. In this article, we will explore the science behind exercise-induced euphoria and the reasons why some people experience this phenomenon.


Endorphins are natural hormones released by the body during strenuous physical activity. They act as natural painkillers and can provide a sense of euphoria. Endorphins are released quicker and more intensely with higher intensity exercises, where the body needs to work harder, but the release can still occur with low-level activities such as walking or yoga.

Stanford University researchers found that when runners completed a 45-minute endurance jog, their blood samples showed increased levels of endorphin production. This “runner’s high” is what scientists believe gives athletes a sense of euphoria after completing an intense physical activity. Endorphins have been linked to decreased stress and anxiety as well as an improved mental state from releasing these hormones through exercise.

In addition to endorphins, exercise also releases other hormones in the brain that can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. However, scientists have seen that it’s actually endorphins that are the primary factor in creating the feeling of euphoria after a hard workout or run. Endorphins bind to opiate receptors in our brain to bring us reducing pain levels and increasing pleasure sensations. It’s this release of endorphin from exercising that helps explain why it is so effective in treating depression symptoms in some people.


Anandamide is an endocannabinoid, a type of neurotransmitter produced naturally in the human body. It functions similarly to the active ingredients in cannabis and has been identified as a possible explanation for the phenomenon known as exercise-induced euphoria. Anandamide is present in certain brain regions responsible for emotion, memory, and reward sensing. Studies have shown that elevated blood levels of anandamide following physical activity positively influence mood and reduce fatigue while increasing a state of relaxation. This can result in the “rush” or “high” commonly experienced during or after intense physical exercise—which may lead to better performance and motivation levels during subsequent workouts. Furthermore, it has even been hypothesized that an increase in cannabinoid receptors (which are activated by anandamide) may help explain why some people become “addicted” to exercising due to its pleasurable effects.


Endurance exercise, such as running and cycling, releases hormones like endorphins and adrenaline. Endorphins are associated with the feeling of pleasure experienced after a workout and are released during activities of sustained physical activity. This can lead to what is commonly referred to as the “runner’s high,” or the feeling of euphoria that comes after completing a tough workout.

Adrenaline, known scientifically as epinephrine, is another hormone released during physical activity that can result in an elevated mood and energy level. Adrenaline is produced within the adrenal glands and acts on muscle cells to bring about increased heart rate and blood pressure—a physiological process known as fight or flight response. It also stimulates glucose metabolism, which provides muscles with more energy for fuels intense exercise.

How to Achieve a Workout High

Have you ever heard of the ‘runner’s high’? It’s a feeling of euphoria and well-being sometimes experienced by athletes after their workout. Many people are interested in experiencing this state of mind but are unsure of how to achieve it. In this article, we’ll explore the best ways to achieve a workout high and the potential benefits it can bring.

Push Yourself to the Limit

When your body reaches its maximum exertion level – or earlier, if you can’t take the strain any longer – endorphins are released. These fabulous chemicals do far more than cause a workout high. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in your brain and act as a natural pain reliever, meaning that not only does your workout get you high, but it also makes you feel better from physical pain.

But getting to the point where these natural chemicals start to come alive needs some serious effort and dedication. To try induce a workout high, you need to push yourself to the limit while exercising. It isn’t something that is easy and will require health enhancers such as adequate sleep, proper nutrition and hydration before embarking on an intense exercise regime in order to maintain an optimum performance level. Getting into this state of euphoria requires missing lateral bounds of comfort zones; boot camp-style courses with lots of rapid exercises may be needed instead of regular workouts such as running on a treadmill or going for long walks.

Once you hit this high point while exercising there’s no doubt that it’s worth it in the end even though getting there may have been uncomfortable at times leading up to it!

Find a Workout Routine You Enjoy

It is important to discover a workout routine you not only enjoy, but look forward to. Your routine should be something you can easily fit into your busy lifestyle and one that won’t make you feel obligated to do every day — because chances are, if it’s making you feel obligated rather than motivated, you will eventually give up.

Investing in quality gym equipment can also be an effective way of motivating yourself and achieving a workout high. Experiencing the improvements in not just your physical appearance but also overall well-being after investing in the right kind of equipment can be an amazing feeling.

Alternatively, signing up for classes may also help keep up your motivation levels. Social activities such as yoga classes or fitness boot camps with friends and family may help boost morale when exercising as well as providing accountability and support when you need it most. Working out with others often creates a ‘team’ mindset that spurs participants on to successfully achieve their goals and can help motivate those participating to work out more frequently — a great way to get ‘high’ on endorphin hormones.

Mix Up Your Exercise Routine

Fitness enthusiasts are often on the lookout for ways to take their workouts to the next level and get that high-intensity “runner’s high.” Incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine is a surefire way to make it more rewarding and enjoyable.

Mixing up your routine also boosts mental endurance and helps prevent burnout. If you do the same exercises every day, your body quickly becomes accustomed and will eventually reach a plateau that leaves you feeling unmotivated and stuck in an exercise rut.
Try group fitness classes, HIIT training, strength training with free weights or body weight exercises, core work, or even martial arts for an added challenge. With so many different activities to try, you are bound to find something that fits both your taste and lifestyle.

Moreover, switching up exercises engages muscles in different ways which leads to heightened energy levels overall. This can be as simple as switching between burpees and push ups in one workout session or as comprehensive as incorporating cardio with weightlifting into one week’s routine. Even small changes can lead to big results overtime when it comes to mental outlook and performance gains at the gym.

The Benefits of a Workout High

Have you ever heard of the term ‘workout high’? It refers to the feeling of wellbeing and elation that can follow a vigorous workout or exercise session. This feeling is also commonly referred to as a runner’s high. But what are the benefits of achieving a workout high and why is it such a desirable state? Let’s take a closer look.

Improved Mood

The physical and psychological benefits of exercise are well-documented, but it may surprise you to learn that exercising can also make you feel euphoric or ‘high.’ This feeling can be caused by endorphins, hormones secreted after a workout that promote feelings of happiness and contentment. Endorphin release is often responsible for what is called a ‘runner’s high’, but any type of exercise can have this effect.

Regular exercise can make you more likely to experience a workout high due to increased fitness and your body’s ability to handle physical stress more efficiently. Additionally, when you complete higher intensity workouts, your body releases higher levels of endorphins which can lead to feelings of elation after the workout experience.

Studies have suggested that regular exercise may reduce stress as well, due to the effects of endorphins as well as improved quality of life and self-esteem. Exercise has also been known to increase confidence and optimism, making us more likely to take on new challenges while reducing depression. Other reports point out that consistently staying active improves mental clarity whilst emphasizing natural relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visualization exercises during your workouts.

Overall, improved mood is one of the many benefits associated with regular exercise and those who take advantage will likely find themselves looking forward eagerly towards their workouts each week!

Increased Energy

A high-intensity workout can put your body in an elevated state, causing a sensation described as a “workout high.” This boosts energy levels and produces a euphoric feeling that can make exercise more enjoyable and even addicting.

Working out releases endorphins and other hormones that are revered for their “feel good” qualities, resulting in the production of serotonin— the hormone responsible for happy emotions! It also triggers changes in various neurotransmitters that can contribute to improved focus and clarity of mind while also reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

These physiological benefits from working out can equip you with more than physical strength; having an active lifestyle also provides mental and emotional advantages that can empower you throughout your daily life. Exercise helps clear the head, enabling one to feel lighter, brighter and more energetic for longer periods of time which has many positive implications on day-to-day life.

Improved Focus

Physical activity has the power to improve both the body and the mind, and improved focus is one of its greatest benefits. Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, helping to clear away distractions and allowing you to concentrate on tasks more efficiently. This improved focus can lead to better performance at work or school as well as a reduction in stress levels. Studies have also shown that regular exercise reduces symptoms of ADHD in children and increases productivity in adults. Exercise also elevates endorphin levels by releasing serotonin and dopamine, which has been found to improve mental clarity and concentration for an extended period after physical activity is complete.


The endorphin effects that occur after exercise can give you a sense of wellbeing and happiness. However, exercise-induced endorphins are nothing like what you may experience with recreational drugs. The effects are more subtle and not to be compared with being ‘high’ or under the influence of an illegal substance. Therefore, no, a workout will not get you high.

Although feelings of euphoria may be related to endorphins released during exercise, these feelings typically last no longer than 10 minutes after working out and do not create any long-lasting physical or mental impairment in the same way drug use can. The body quickly adapts to regular physical activity so even if the intensity is increased, your symptoms post-workout will remain about the same as long as you are exercising regularly.

In addition to the moderate amount of endorphins released during exercise, there is also evidence that points towards other hormones such as dopamine or serotonin playing a role in how good we feel after activity. After assessing all available research on this topic, it is clear that including regular physical activity into your lifestyle can lead to improved mental health through a variety of pathways – however this does not equate with the feeling experienced from recreational drug use or from being ‘high’.

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