A surprising new study has found that there's a big similarity between "runner's high" and taking a few puffs of marijuana.
It’s that incredible feeling you get after reaching the peak of your workout, often called “runner’s high,” and a new study finds that it may be alarmingly similar to the experience of smoking dope.
We’ve all been told that runner’s high is when the body releases endorphins from a vigorous workout, making you feel good all over and causing the brain to reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of euphoria. But a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that a substance called endocannabinoids is what’s really responsible for those good feelings, according to a Washington Post report.
As you can tell from the name, endocannabinoids do have a relationship to marijuana — they’re basically self-produced cannabis in the body, and it can have a similar affect on one’s physiology.
Scientists at the Central Institute of Mental Health of the University of Heidelberg studied this in mice. They gave them running wheels, and found that these mice experienced their own sort of “runner’s high.” Then they blocked the endocannabinoid system in these mice with drugs to see what would happen: the runner’s high was gone, and animals were filled with the same amount of anxiety and were more sensitive to pain.
A similar study at the University of Montreal in August came to some other interesting conclusions on runner’s high. The scientists there focused on the hormone leptin, also known as the satiety hormone. Leptin is what signals to your body when it has received enough fuel, producing a “satisfied” feeling. During workouts, it’s possible that leptin levels fall and result in a hunger signal to the brain. This is thought to reward the brain.
The researchers found during the study that genetically engineered mice that lacked a leptin-sensitive protein ran twice as much as normal mice.
So what does this mean on a practical level? Perhaps it could mean the development of drugs that people can take to help them exercise more and better regulate their health.
Cannabis has a number of uses, but it is probably best known as a popular recreational drug that is only now beginning to gain traction for legalization after many decades of being banned at the federal and state level. It remains an illegal drug at the federal level, but many states and locales have taken steps to either legalize it at the state level or at least decriminalize it.
An estimated 100 million Americans are believed to have tried cannabis at some point, with 25 million having used it in the last year.
Cannabis has psychoactive effects that include feelings of relaxation and even euphoria. It also has secondary effects of introspection and philosophical thinking, as well as some unpleasant effects in some cases, like anxiety and paranoia. Sometimes, there is a physiological effect, like a higher heart rate and an increased hunger.