A runner’s high is a sense of well-being some people experience after prolonged exercise. For decades, it was hypothesized that exercise-induced endorphin release is solely responsible for a runner’s high, but recent evidence has suggested that endocannabinoids also may play a role.
A popular belief has been that endogenous endorphins mediate the effects of a so called runner’s high, which typically consists of a pleasant feeling of euphoria, anxiolysis, sedation, and analgesia. However, running exercises increase blood levels of both β-endorphin (an opioid) and anandamide (an endocannabinoid).
This study demonstrates that cannabinoid receptors mediate acute anxiolysis and analgesia after running. It shows that anxiolysis depends on intact cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) receptors on forebrain GABAergic neurons and pain reduction on activation of peripheral CB1 and CB2 receptors. This therefore demonstrates that the endocannabinoid system is crucial for two main aspects of a runner’s high.
Goodbody has no association with the organisation that conducted this research and is not in a position to validate the research methods, results or conclusions of the published article. It is provided for awareness of research available that may be of interest only. Any reader should read a range of articles and research to have a balanced and informed view.