Thank Endocannabinoids, not Endorphins, for the Runner’s High

The “runner’s high” is an interesting phenomenon; the euphoric, relaxed feeling after a good bout of exercise brings many people coming back for more. For many years endorphins have been thought to be the ones to thank for the joyous feeling after exercise, but the latest studies are showing endorphins are not the one to thank instead we should be praising our endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are chemicals released by our body that are made up a series of lipids and receptors in the brain, they are responsible for multiple physiological processes such as appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.

Study findings released by the Central Institute of Mental Health at the University of Heidelberg medical school in Mannheim, Germany compared the effects of endocannabinoids and endorphins in mice. Using mice, very anxious animals who tend to gravitate towards shadowed areas, after periods of running scientists observed the mice were less agitated and spent more time in the lighted areas of their cage suggesting they experienced a period of relaxation after their runs. They then proceeded to block endorphin production, the mice were still producing endocannabinoids but no endorphins, the mice reacted the same spending more time in the lighted areas. The scientist then chemically blocked endocannabinoids, the mice returned to their agitated states after the run, gravitating towards shadowed areas and displaying their normal skittish behavior.
These findings point further that endocannabinoids are responsible for the “runners high”, not endorphins. Scientists are now studying the distance or length of exercise required for this euphoric feeling to be felt.

So next time you are feeling good after a bout of exercise make sure to thank your endocannabinoids!

For more information on the study findings click here:

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