An 18-year-old needed “longer and longer distances to satisfy his craving for running,” reports a German newspaper.
At 2:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 a.m., he would run “a couple of dozen kilometers before getting back into bed, reposed and contented.”
This is by no means a unique case, since research scientists in various lands are currently dealing with joggers who are addicted to endorphin.
How can such an addiction develop?
The endorphin factor
Researchers have discovered that with continuous and protracted physical exertion, endorphin is formed in muscle nerves.
The endorphins are endogenous (coming from within) opiates that produce a feeling of euphoria—providing fanatical joggers at times with a high.
The president of an international association studying sports medicine noted:
Whether these morphine derivatives can lead to addiction or not was long a matter of some dispute. Now it is a proved fact.”
Hence, there seems to be inherent danger in running or jogging exceedingly long distances and, of course, in performing any other forms of extreme exercise exertion.
May there be any other health hazard associated with high-performance sports activities? Yes.
You may remember the story of the Greek messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens some 2,500 years ago.
According to legend, he collapsed and died on the spot after bringing news into Athens of the Greek victory over the Persians.
Researchers see in this story an example of endorphins in the muscles.
They say that long periods of strenuous activity can lead to death by sudden cardiac arrest because endorphins lower the perception of pain.
For example, under normal circumstances severe chest pains cause a runner to stop running, which, according to experts, in most cases allows the heart to reestablish its customary rhythm.
But during extreme physical effort, endorphins lower the perception of pain, making signals transmitted by the body indiscernible to the runner.
This can have disastrous consequences.
On the other hand, balanced physical exercise is wholesome, and endorphins released at such times seem to have a positive effect.
One woman who regularly goes jogging explains:
“I used to take medicine, but now when I’m in a rotten mood, I go for a run.”
A brisk walk or a run may indeed help a person to dispel or at least come to terms with depression.
Endorphins seem to play a role in such instances.
Physical exercise becomes dangerous only when it is carried too far.