If you’ve never experienced runner’s high, one may wonder why people torment themselves by running marathon after marathon then posting about it on Facebook. Well science may have an answer to what runner’s high is like and why it feels so good.
Runner’s high is the addictive side effect that a person achieves when they subject their body to exhausting cardiovascular activity. A new scientific study states that this euphoria felt from running is similar to that from marijuana. That is because running affects the same part of the brain that weed influences.
German scientists conducted a study at the University of Heidelberg in Mannheim and they discovered that endocannabinoids, not endorphins, are responsible for the emotional boost and resistance to pain that comes from running. Endocannabinoids are much closer to the chemicals released by smoking weed. The new research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and it suggests that the runner’s high can’t be from endorphins because they can’t pass through the blood-brain barrier, but endocannabinoids, on the other hand, can pass directly from blood to brain. Lead author Dr. Johannes Fuss and his colleagues hypothesized that endocannabinoids were a much better candidate for explaining why runners and cyclists get a sense of euphoria from physical exertion.
Here’s what they did to prove their hypothesis:
Scientists trained 32 mice to run on a wheel over the course of three days. Then they split them in two groups; half the mice would run for five hours per day, while the others would not run. They found that the mice that had been running responded with less anxiety to stress tests and were less sensitive to pain when put on a hot plate.
The researchers performed the same tests on two groups of mice: one group was given drugs that blocked only endorphins, while the other group was given drugs to block only endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. The group of mice that had only their endorphins blocked—but could still produce anandamide—reacted in much the same way as the mice that had been exercising. They showed less stress and sensitivity to pain when compared to the group that had the anandamide blocked.
Back in 2003, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology found similar results when using students as their guinea pigs.
Or you could just sit on your couch and smoke bud without exerting all that effort and get the same high.