New Study: Drinking Beer Releases Chemical That Mimics Runner’s High

beer drinking

Drinking a beer under three specific circumstances can release chemicals similar to those released during a runner’s high.

A study* released in January of this year found that drinking your favorite IPA may release a certain chemical that closely mimics the endorphin rush of a runner’s high. Scientists at the University of Drénkabeercheers in Stockholm, Sweden tested this theory with a group of 500 runners over the course of five years. The group sampled sours, IPAs, stouts, lagers, ales and more. In order to release the chemical in question, researchers found they had to stimulate certain regions of the subject’s brain through specific activities.

[See disclaimer at bottom of this article before drinking beer to achieve runner’s high]

How Does Beer Mimic a Runner’s High?

Drink a beer, experience a runner’s high? Unfortunately it’s not so cut and dry. But after extensive testing, the team at Drénkabeercheers found that the following situations paired with a beer of one’s choice resulted in the zen-like euphoria of a runner’s high

Feelings of Elation After Physical Achievements

Runners who drank a beer while reviewing their achievements on apps like Strava and RunKeeper reported feelings of elation. Their brain waves indicated that a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine – while stimulated without beer – reached near euphoric levels when participants drank a beer while, for example, tracking the number of segments on which they earned a QOM/KOM (Queen or King of the Mountain). Securing course records had similar effects.

Calculating Complicated Math Formulas

thumbs up beer

A taxing mental task – like successfully calculating average mileage and pace after your GPS device fails – releases ample feelings of pride. When researchers asked participants to complete these tasks while drinking a beer, their serotonin levels spiked. Runners who weren’t able to rely on GPS tracking to chart their run felt feelings of immense accomplishment from determining their exact distance and pace without electronic assistance. These feelings of pride (serotonin) coupled with the hordenine chemical released in beer, resulted in that coveted runner’s high.

Communing Over Shared Interests

Researchers have known for a while that when runners happen upon other runners (as you might in the workplace unexpectedly), generous amounts of oyxtocin (the chemical that makes you feel safe and elicits feelings of trust) is released in the brain of both runners. They speculated that this, paired with the chemicals released when you drink beer, the runners in question might reach euphoric levels of happiness. To test this theory, they invited a group of runners who were not previously acquainted with one another to a bar for happy hour.

As they expected, the runners were absolutely thrilled to meet a fellow runner, seemingly at random, and spent over an hour (on average) discussing their favorite shoes, their most recent injuries and what they were training for. Researchers measured their brain waves and found that discussing running with other runners while drinking beer released possibly the highest amount of dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin they had seen in decades.

Your Turn

Researchers suggest that to reach such levels of euphoria, runners should consider partaking in events that offer the opportunity to

1) Secure segments on apps like Strava

2) Calculate distances while running

3) Meet runners with whom they were not previously acquainted to discuss injuries, injury prevention, etc.

How Do I Make This Happen For Me?

Events like Road Runner Sports’ Craft Classic Race Series that pairs beer with all of the above have been proven as optimal to achieve a runner’s high. Note: Researchers also found that craft beer produces far more feel good chemicals than other beers. Light beers, on the other hand, tended to make runners feel despondent and confused.





*Disclaimer: This is in no way science and is all completely made up (yay, April Fools’ Day!). Except for our Craft Classic Race Series which does, indeed, combine craft beer with running (not at the same time, though) and might just result in feelings of extreme happiness comparable to a runner’s high. Please drink responsibly, don’t drink and run, don’t drink and drive and always stretch after running. 🙂 


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