Why does running make us feel happy?
Have you ever experienced that joyful feeling whilst out running or training on the treadmill?
A study by the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre shows that the “runner’s high” is caused by dopamine, a neurotransmitter for motivation.
It has been found that the rewarding effects of endurance activities such as running are controlled by leptin (a hormone key to metabolism).
Leptin is the hormone found in adipose tissue that helps to control the feeling of being full when eating. The more leptin there is the less we feel like eating. This hormone also plays a role in our motivation to run, which may have evolved from the need to find food in mammals.
The study suggests that leptin is important both for regulating our energy balance and for motivating us to behave in a way that is rewarding for our metabolism. For example engaging in physical activity to find food. It is suggested that for humans , low leptin levels increase the motivation to exercise resulting in the runners “high”. As we have evolved our hormones have evolved to tell us that when food is scarce it is fun to run and find some.
I don’t know about you but this is great news. I can now run to the cake shop safe in the knowledge that it is my hormones telling me to go find some food.