The ‘runner’s high’: Southern Cross researchers want to know more

Published 4 September 2019

Have you ever felt the ‘runner’s high’? A Southern Cross University research team will be at the Coffs Harbour Running Festival this weekend to measure these elated experiences.

Christian Swann
Dr Christian Swann.

The runner's high, often known as being in ‘flow’, is an enjoyable and rewarding psychological state which can occur during activities such as sport and exercise.

Feedback from Running Festival participants will help the researchers work on strategies to help people achieve this natural ‘high’ more often. 

The study is led by Dr Christian Swann, an accredited sport and exercise scientist in the School of Health and Human Sciences, whose research is primarily about understanding how to promote positive experiences in sport and exercise to help people stay active and live well, longer. 

“If we want to be physically active long-term, we need to have positive experiences during physical activities such as sport and exercise. Even though most people feel good after exercise, it’s how we feel during exercise that really matters to staying active,” said Dr Swann.

“Running is a particularly good activity to study because many runners have had the opportunity to experience these states. Running can give people an opportunity to get lost in the moment, feel like things are going well, and feel that high.”

Two Southern Cross psychology Honours students, Janelle Driscoll and Matthew Gatt, are working with Dr Swann on the project.

The research team will be at finishing line for all four Coffs Harbour Running Festival events - 10km, half marathon (21km), 5km and 3km - on Sunday September 8. All runners are invited to take the survey. 

Southern Cross University is proud to sponsor the 5km Fun Run at the Coffs Harbour Running Festival.

This study been approved by the Human Ethics Committee at Southern Cross University (Approval Number ECN-18-076).

Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or