New research challenges the long-held belief that the ‘runner’s high’ phenomenon is related to endorphins. Researchers at the University of Heidelberg posit that the feeling of euphoria some runners experience is instead produced by a substance called endocannabinoids, which is also found in marijuana.
Runner’s High Linked To Marijuana Chemical
An experiment, conducted using laboratory mice, discovered that animals exhibited increased degrees of both endocannabinoids and endorphins after running on a treadmill. The mice also tended to be calmer after their run, opting to spend more time in part of their cage with more light. When drugs were introduced to shut off the endocannabinoid receptors, the mice no longer experienced a relaxing benefit from running.
The cannabinoid receptors are involved in a number of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood and memory.
Researchers wrote: “[This shows] for the first time to our knowledge that cannabinoid receptors are crucial for main aspects of a runner’s high.”