A Runner's High Explained
A runner’s high isn’t the only possible benefit of running or exercising. Indeed, there are several physical benefits caused by the chemicals released when you’re running, and they’re not all related to your cardiovascular system.
Running and aerobic exercise release a flood of endorphins into your blood. Endorphins are often called the “feel-good” chemicals because they produce feelings of happiness and pleasure.
They also help you feel less pain while you’re running. That can act as a natural pain reliever, helping you endure longer periods of exercise.
For decades, scientists believed endorphins were responsible for a runner’s high. It makes sense — they do have a great deal of beneficial effects.
But in recent years, research has revealed that endorphins may not have much to do with it after all. Instead, new research points to another type of molecule: endocannabinoids.
These molecules act on your endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that’s affected by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis.
Like endorphins, exercise releases endocannabinoids into the bloodstream. If you feel euphoric or deeply relaxed after a run, these molecules may be the responsible party.