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The Runner's High Explained

This article is Part Four of our four-part series on the extraordinary effects of hyperthermic conditioning--or heat acclimation--through sauna use on athletic performance and general health. If this series doesn't convince you that a sauna should be a regular part of your health regimen, nothing will! We believe this information is so important, that we are featuring the series on both our Saunas US and Saunas Canada sites.

This series focuses on and breaks down the information provided by Dr. Rhonda Patrick in her YouTube video "Hyperthermic Conditioning for Hypertrophy, Endurance, and Neurogenesis". See the full video pasted below. Throughout the article, we will direct you to specific points in the video so you can jump straight there.


Hyperthermic Conditioning / Heat Acclimation Through Sauna Use

Heat acclimation--or hyperthermic conditioning--through regular sauna use can have profound effects on health and athletic performance. Specifically, in the following areas:

  1. increasing endurance capacity
  2. increasing muscle mass
  3. improving brain function, including neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells)
  4. causing the effect known as "Runner's High"

Refer to 1:08 in the video.

The Runner's High (10:11)

It's a common report among runners: they push themselves through a long and tough run, and then afterwards find that they feel really really good. Like maybe too good, as if chemically altered. This "high"--or euphoria--is sometimes mistakenly thought to be caused by endorphins, but it's not. Well, not really.

What happens is this: during a run, your body releases dynorphin, which is the opposite of endorphin. While endorphins make you feel good all over, dynorphins actually create a feeling of dysphoria. These dynorphins essentially "reboot" your system, making you more sensitive to endorphins.

You can get this "high" effect from activities a release of dynorphins, such as exercise, eating really spicy food, and--you guessed it--heat stress, such as you experience from a sauna session.

So if you'd like to experience this euphoria without having to run a marathon, have a seat in a nice hot sauna!

Be sure to check out the entire series on heat acclimation/hyperthermic conditioning:

  1. Building Athletic Endurance Through Sauna Use
  2. Increasing Muscle Mass Through Sauna Use
  3. Improving Brain Function Through Sauna Use
  4. The Runner's High Explained