No matter how long you’ve been running, chances are you’ve heard of the “Runner’s High.” But what is it, exactly?
Well, have you ever finished a run and felt like you could have kept running forever because you felt so great? Or finished a run and didn’t have a care in the world because you were so happy? Or started a run super stressed out about everything you’ll have to do when you’re done but by the end you aren’t worried at all anymore? If you’ve experienced any of these, you’ve probably had the runner’s high.
For years and years, scientists thought that this post-run bliss was related to particular endorphins that make us feel happier. But a recent study has shown that runner’s high may actually have more to do with the brain’s endocannabinoid system (yes, the same system affected by THC in marijuana).
A group of scientists realized that endorphins can’t get through the blood-brain barrier, but an endocannabinoid called anandamide can. That means that anandamide can travel through our blood and into our brain, causing the euphoric feeling. High levels of anandamide have been found in people after they’ve finished running, but the actual studies have only been performed on mice so far.