#Endocannabinoids produced by #Running; the positive psychological effects of #EnduranceExercise #RunnersHigh
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Endurance running or just long distance running produces endogenous neurotransmitters called “endocannabinoids” (eCBs).
Interestingly this neuroscience term bares a striking resemblance to the function of cannabis. And based on this research, it's nature’s way of providing a calming sense of well-being and reinforcing the rewards of endurance running, neurobiologically speaking. The brain produces its own medicinal properties as a result of endurance activities. We refer to this as "runners high".
The eCB neurotransmitters activate the cannabinoid receptors in the reward region of the brain and are activity-dependent. This neurobiological reward system and feedback loop provide a plausible explanation for why humans engage in endurance exercise despite the potential for injury and loss of energy.
Endocannabinoid is neuroscience behind the popular reference to a “runners high”. An increase of eCB’s neurotransmitters into the bloodstream enhances a person’s sense of well-being, reduces anxiety (anxiolytic), which produces a calming sense post-run, and also buffers the sensation of pain.
“Exercise-induced reductions in pain sensation lead to feelings of effortlessness associated with the strict definition of the runner’s high and improve exercise performance by allowing individuals to run longer distances (Dietrich and McDaniel, 2004). Both the psychological and analgesic effects of CB receptor activation mirror athletes’ descriptions of the neurobiological rewards associated with exercise (Dietrich and McDaniel, 2004)”, (Raichlen, Foster, Gerdeman, Seillier, & Giuffrida, 2012).
The release of eCB’s is intensity-dependent, which is why endurance running and other aerobic exercise create enough intensity for this neurobiological reward to function.
Raichlen, D. A., Foster, A. D., Gerdeman, G. L., Seillier, A., & Giuffrida, A. (2012). Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the ‘runner’s high’. The Journal of experimental biology. Volume 215(8); pp. 1331-1336.
This blog is intended to explore ideas, educate, entertain and expand our thinking. Some posts speak to current trends in the brain sciences, neural benefits of exercise & sports, emotional intelligence and personal growth.