January 30, 2009
Running - The Best Therapy Money Can't Buy
This morning I picked up the paper. Like most mornings these days, it read like an economic apocalypse. Bank bailouts, an auto-industry slump, mortgage defaults, rising unemployment, recession, and on and on. Whether you're an employee of a large corporation, a small business owner, even the new President of the United States, things aren't looking real good.
Where does one find relief? Its been said that anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have their head examined. What about drugs? Some people are turning to prescription drugs, among the fastest growing area of abuse and addiction. According to the DEA more than 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, up 80% in recent years. Alcohol sales are up too. What next?
The answer, my friends, lies in the pituitary gland. Yes, the little nodule sitting inside all our brains that sends chemicals to our bodies that block the pain sensation and, better yet, bring euphoria to our world. Stronger than heroin, morphine and opium, these chemicals are closely linked to addictions. What are they? Endorphins.
Most people are familiar with the runners high. And most runners know of the effect endorphins have on us. But do you have to be a runner to get this stuff? Turns out, no. In fact, laughter, crying, sex, orgasm, acupuncture, eating sweets and spicy foods, all trigger the release of endorphins. Can you imagine this lifestyle everyday? Caution - endorphins, and all the activities that trigger them, are addictive too!
Its still early in the morning. I lace up my shoes and fill my water bottles. As I step out and onto the trail, I take a deep breath. Above me are clouds that shroud a horizon that seems to bend with the curvature of the earth. Slowly I start my way down the trail. My head is down as I step carefully over the altering terrain. My mind is clear. Euphoria creeps in.