By Renae Leith
A new study published by the National Academy Of Science and led by Oxford University claims running triggers the brain’s cannabinoid receptors to relieve pain, in the same way smoking marijuana relaxes our brains.
This is the reverse of what previous studies claimed happens in the brain to runners.
Previous research claimed running and high impact exercise raised levels of beta-endorphins that gave runners a high, but this new research has shown the endorphins are too big to permeate the brain/blood barrier.
The cannabinoid receptors also effect appetite, mood, memory and pain tolerance, all of which are now said to be enhanced in runners.
Running also increases the level of beta-endorphin (an opioid, a natural compound resembling opium in addictive properties and/or physiological effects), and anandamide (an endocannabinoid,a group of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors in the brain that are involved in a variety of physiological processes).
This correlates with an early study in Arizona on dogs – a species which has also evolved to enjoy running.
The Mayo clinic also released a paper linking exercise with reduced depression and anxiety, claiming it can reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen depression and the increased body temperature following high impact exercise may have calming effects.
The news has shaken the medical world who have long believed it was endorphins, which improved the mood of runners, and kept them returning for more.
Ultimately this new evidence could lead to significant changes to the way we exercise, but for now, it is time for a new pair of running shoes.
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