Your Own Natural High
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natural high

One reason I exercise and raise my heart rate is for that "runner's high". I just feel good afterwards. And I can't believe I'm saying this, Dave: You're lookin' good these days! Well, I'm about forty pounds lighter and exercise is one of the reasons.

For years, we've credited endorphins with that post workout high because they're natural pain killers released by our bodies. Except the problem is that endorphins are proteins which are too big to cross the blood-brain barrier. And recent studies show when endorphins' effects are blocked, people still felt the high.

That's why now studies point to another cause: endocannabinoids which are like the active ingredient in marijuana! These are small fatty acids that humans naturally produce in response to food, exercise, sex, obesity, injury and stress. We have receptors for endocannabinoids throughout the body and the brain. They stimulate pain relief, reduce anxiety and stress, enhance learning and memory, and affect hunger, inflammation, and immune functioning.

A meta-analysis of many studies shows acute exercise like a thirty-minute run consistently increased their levels. Other exercises that didn't raise heartrate weren't as effective. And get this Dave, the first endocannabinoid to be discovered was anandamide whose name comes from the Sanskrit word "ananda" or internal bliss.

How appropriate! I wouldn't go that far but hey, I'm just grateful I feel good at all after a workout!

For more information…

The 'runner's high' may result from molecules called cannabinoids - the body's own version of THC and CBD
Many people have experienced reductions in stress, pain and anxiety and sometimes even euphoria after exercise. What's behind this so-called "runner's high"? New research on the neuroscience of exercise may surprise you...

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Exercise on the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays a key role in maintaining homeostasis, including the regulation of metabolism and stress responses. Chronic stress may blunt eCB signaling, and disruptions in eCB signaling have been linked to stress-related psychiatric disorders and physical health conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), diabetes, and obesity. Pharmacological and nonpharmacological behavioral interventions (e.g., exercise) that target the eCB system may be promising therapeutic approaches for the prevention and treatment of stress-related diseases. In this study, we perform a systematic review and the first meta-analysis to examine the impact of exercise on circulating eCB concentrations...

The Truth Behind 'Runner's High' and Other Mental Benefits of Running
ou may have experienced it - that relaxing feeling after a good run. Often referred to as "runner's high," the experience is usually attributed to a burst of endorphins released during exercise. But is that truly an endorphin rush you're feeling, or something else? David Linden, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, breaks down the phenomenon of runner's high and other effects running has on the brain...