Rowers' high: behavioural synchrony is correlated with elevated pain thresholds

Biol Lett. 2010 Feb 23;6(1):106-8. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0670. Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Physical exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins, creating a mild sense of euphoria that has rewarding properties. Using pain tolerance (a conventional non-invasive assay for endorphin release), we show that synchronized training in a college rowing crew creates a heightened endorphin surge compared with a similar training regime carried out alone. This heightened effect from synchronized activity may explain the sense of euphoria experienced during other social activities (such as laughter, music-making and dancing) that are involved in social bonding in humans and possibly other vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Endorphins / metabolism
  • England
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Threshold / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Sports*


  • Endorphins