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The Connection of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Exercise: The “Runner’s High”

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.

 

Read report here

 

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