6 Workouts That Give You The "Runner's High" Without Actually Having To Run

Maybe you've experienced this. You've been pounding the pavement for nearly an hour on a long run when you start to feel freaking fantastic. Like, life is beautiful, you're somehow confident that everything is going to be OK, you feel like you might have the ability to fly. These good vibes are known as a runner's high. Now, I personally love that feeling. I crave that high after a stressful day of work. But because I don't always feel like getting on a treadmill or taking a long loop around the park, I've had to learn how to get a runner's high without actually running. And, let me tell you friends, it's totally possible.

First off, just as a little background, there really is some science to back up the runner's high phenomenon. It's characterized by a euphoric feeling, a reduction in stress and anxiety, and an actual drop in your ability to feel pain after extended aerobic exercise. While it's been long understood that this has to do with the release of things like opioid peptides and endorphins (both of which aid in creating an opiate effect, or "high," in the brain), some research also supports the idea that the endocannabinoid system in the brain (aka the part of your brain that feels pretty groovy after smoking pot) might also be playing a role in those positive vibes.

But the point is, my friends, you can get that rush of endorphins and pseudo-high from a number of different workouts — not just from running. Here are a few for you to try out.


The first time I took a boxing class, despite the fact that I kind of thought I was dying, I also felt invincible when we were finished. The feeling of a high, along with clarity of mind, are just a few of the proven benefits behind high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Maybe it's just me, but I think punching a bag with everything you have really adds to that feeling of lightness when you're done.


Yes, if you are non-stop dancing for close to an hour, you better believe those endorphins are going to kick up and give you the same benefits of an extended aerobic workout like running.

Plus, it's undeniably fun, and research shows dancing can actually help improve brain health and memory, specifically as you get older.

Not a bad perk, right? Get that playlist up and running, girl.

Circuit Training
BeFiT on YouTube

Circuit training is a kind of workout that tries to hit every major muscle group with endurance and strength training, but by using mostly high-intensity aerobics.

If you want to give it a shot, there are classes designed with this in mind (think CrossFit). There are also some awesome online tutorials that you can do at home or even take with you to the gym.


Swimming is praised as one of those workouts that's not only aerobically challenging, but also a low-impact form of exercise that works all your muscles while going easy on the joints.

There's even some pretty sweet psychological benefits to gain from swimming, as the workout is somewhat meditative in nature and can help reduce anxiety.

Kundalini Yoga
Dominique Harrier on YouTube

The breathing techniques and repetitive, physical exercises — aka the kriyas (sets of movements and breath exercises) — in kundalini yoga are basically designed to alter your mood, even going so far as "awakening" you on a mind-body-spiritual level.

While the workouts themselves are often quite challenging, kundalini yoga is all about the amazing, soothing effects that different techniques of breathing can have on your brain and central nervous system.


I mean, maybe this one is obvious, because cycling class is kind of celebrity status when it comes to doing an intense, prolonged aerobic exercise. But getting your butt on the bike is going to trigger those same euphoric benefits, as well as increase heart and lung capacity.

But be careful, because cycling can be easily overdone.

So, if you're ready to feel really freakin' rad and let go some of the tension of the daily grind, try one of these workouts and see how it feels for you. You might just feel, you know, high afterward.