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How Runners Perceive These Psychological Benefits

Now that we have reviewed what the scientists think running does for our minds, we should consider what runners themselves think of these benefits.

Callen (1983) used a questionnaire to survey 424 runners of both sexes in the small college town of Columbia, Missouri, and his results are contained in Exercises 7.3.

This Exercises shows that the surveyed runners believe they derive important mental and emotional benefits from exercise, in particular relief from tension and enhanced self-image, mood, and self-confidence. Sixty-nine percent of the runners experienced a “high” during running.

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This occurred more commonly in those who ran more than 35 km/week and had been running for more than 15 months. The highwhich was described as a feeling of euphoria with a lifting of spirits, increased creativity and insight, and a sense of well-beingusually occurred in the second half of the run; it occurred roughly every second run and became more likely to occur the longer the run. Callen suggested that the high may be a form of autohypnosis, with the first half of the run being used to induce the hypnotic state.


As the running revolution of the 1970s took hold and the literature describing its benefits grew, it was only natural that a counterliterature should develop. The

Modified from “Mental and Emotional Aspects of Long-Distance Running” by K.E. Callen, 1983, Psychosomatics, 24(2), pp. 139, 145. Copyright 1983 by American Psychiatric Press. Adapted by permission.

“Respondents could list as many benefits as they wished.

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