What Precisely is a Runner’s Excessive?


When you’ve ever felt a surge of euphoria after going for a run, you are not alone. This phenomenon, often called ‘the runner’s excessive’, is a pure response that may make individuals who do not even wish to run really feel invincible.

The seek for the neurobiological causes of the runner’s excessive has fascinated scientists and laymen for the previous many years. A runner’s excessive is outlined as an emotional state throughout or after endurance coaching characterised by lowered ache sensitivity, sedation, euphoria, and eased anxiousness. Some have additionally emphasised a misplaced sense of time and emotions of effortlessness.

Analysis has traditionally claimed that

the discharge of endorphins, a hydrophilic (i.e., combine with or dissolve in water) molecule binding to opioid receptors is liable for the runner’s excessive.

Though this speculation was extensively perpetrated by the media, it had little proof to assist it(1).

There have been a pair strains of proof that didn’t assist this concept.  First, peripheral endorphins would not have a significant impact on the mind, as they can’t cross the blood-brain barrier as a consequence of their hydrophilic construction. Therefore, a hyperlink between peripheral endorphin ranges throughout endurance train and elevated temper couldn’t be found(2).

Second, blockage of the opioid system didn’t have an effect on the subjective expertise throughout endurance train(3).

Within the Nineteen Nineties, two predominant endogenous endocannabinoids (arachidonoyl ethanolamide), which was termed “anandamide” (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Their discovery led to the endocannabinoid speculation of the runner’s excessive. Not like the hydrophilic nature of endorphins, endocannabinoids are lipophilic (i.e., mix with or dissolve in lipids or fat) molecules and might penetrate the blood-brain barrier simply, making them higher candidates to

clarify the runner’s excessive(4).  

The endocannabinoid system is a potent endogenous system concerned in varied physiological features within the nervous system. Some concerned physiological processes are synaptic transmission, temper, reward, anxiousness, urge for food, reminiscence processing, neuroprotection, and neuroinflammation (see determine under).


Determine: The discharge of endocannabinoids is triggered by varied stimuli (purple arrows). Larger ranges of endocannabinoids in flip have been related to a plethora of (neuro)organic penalties (blue arrows)(5).


As well as, additionally they play essential roles throughout neural improvement, for instance, neuronal proliferation, neuronal migration, and axonal development.

Apparently, plainly not each human can expertise a runner’s excessive.

For instance, research with endurance runners reported that solely 69% to 77% of the contributors skilled a runner’s excessive at the very least as soon as up to now.

These findings could also be sophisticated by a poor conceptualization of the runner’s excessive as a whole description of this phenomenon isn’t nicely communicated in analysis. Consequently, this complicates analysis into

the neurobiology of a runner’s excessive.

Regardless of the restricted and inconsistent knowledge in people, animal analysis signifies that endocannabinoid signaling is crucial for voluntary wheel working in mice and rats(6).  

One other trait of the runner’s excessive, euphoria, is but not attainable to check in animal fashions. Subsequently, in recent times, there have been growing efforts to research the connection between traits of runner’s excessive and endocannabinoids in people.

This text will present an outline of the relation between endurance train and endocannabinoids and deal with the 4 predominant options of the runner’s excessive:

  • – Diminished ache sensation
  • – Sedation
  • – Euphoria
  • – and lowered anxiousness

Main Findings

A lot of the proof so far signifies a big enhance in endocannabinoids after acute train.  Research that didn’t exhibit a big enhance in AEA used a low train depth or a excessive latency till blood was sampled post-exercise.  A rise in 2-AG was solely present in about 40% of the research which can be as a consequence of small pattern sizes and never having the ability to detect 2-AG.


acute train enhances endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like lipids, the other was discovered for long-term endurance train packages, which recurrently discovered a lower in endocannabinoid ranges. This discovering should be interpreted with warning as a result of solely 4 research have been revealed on that subject and several other potential biases should be thought-about.  

Other than a attainable reporting bias, modifications in physique mass index and fats tissue following long-term train could have an effect on the endocannabinoid system.

Train persistently had an encouraging impact on temper.

For instance,

euphoria and emotions of happiness have been reported after acute train(4).  

One other research discovered a big affiliation between constructive have an effect on of AEA ranges following acute train. Whereas the self-reported constructive results of endurance train are a sturdy discovering throughout research, the attainable function of endocannabinoids, and notably AEA, has come into focus solely just lately.

The anxiolytic

(lowered anxiousness) impact of train after a bout of train has been proven in 80% of the analysis. The anxiolytic results of a bout of train have been additionally detected in an anxiety-provoking digital actuality paradigm(4).  

In exercising girls affected by main despair, a unfavourable correlation between AEA ranges and state anxiousness after train was demonstrated. In a research the place contributors obtained predictable and unpredictable electrical shocks in an Impartial-Predictable-Unpredictable risk job, a better enhance in endocannabinoids was related to a better lower in anxiousness and worry rankings(7).

Though a sedative impact of working is commonly assumed, not one of the analysis signifies an impact of train on alertness.

Thus, there may be nonetheless no proof that the fourth criterion of

a runner’s excessive, specifically, sedation, is certainly related to the endocannabinoid system. In the meantime, a research in mice means that sedation is an unspecific consequence of train that doesn’t require endocannabinoid signaling(6).

Scary a runner’s excessive may be challenged by a number of points. Lactate thresholds may differ between people. Furthermore, an increase in lactate ranges within the blood can have an effect on metabolization within the mind which could affect endocannabinoid signaling(8).

Subsequently, totally different train intensities and particular person cardiorespiratory health ranges could impression responses of the endocannabinoid system. Future analysis into endocannabinoid-mediated mechanisms ought to attend to those variations by measuring particular person lactate modifications or cardiorespiratory health.

These elements, in addition to heterogeneities in how blood sampling and processing have been carried out, might clarify the unfavourable findings in some research that investigated endocannabinoid after acute train.  Nevertheless, no correlation between AEA launch and mind exercise was detected. All analysis so far has targeted on endocannabinoid ligands in blood.

There could also be vital modifications in endocannabinoid receptor expression and exercise within the mind as demonstrated in animal analysis.

A analysis research with a positron emission tomography and an endocannabinoid ligand could be an vital step towards the understanding of the mind buildings concerned with the constructive results of exercise-induced endocannabinoids in people.

Future Analysis

An ongoing and open query is the place and the way exercise-induced endocannabinoids could have an effect on the mind. Utilizing a practical magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) job, elevated exercise within the caudate nucleus and hippocampus was present in a earlier research additionally investigating endocannabinoids(9).

There must be extra analysis concerning exercise-induced hypoalgesia, which is decreased sensitivity to painful stimuli.

Whereas some proof means that exercise-induced hypoalgesia could also be defined by way of endocannabinoid launch throughout

short-duration isometric train, research included on this evaluation that investigated acute endurance train have been inconsistent.

No analysis has evaluated endocannabinoid ranges after 60 minutes at 70% to 85% of age-predicted maximal coronary heart fee. It may be that the endocannabinoid system can also be affected when vitality metabolization processes of the physique change throughout longer train regimes. A trial with sampling blood throughout a marathon could be a chic path to guage the endocannabinoid system over time.

Virtually all of the analysis so far has been carried out inside a managed laboratory.  Environment throughout train may impression the endocannabinoid system and may assist produce a runner’s excessive. Future analysis ought to deal with such contextual elements.


Acute cardio train prompts the endocannabinoid system. There have been vital will increase in AEA and fewer incessantly in 2-AG after each most well-liked and prescribed train. Train-induced will increase in endocannabinoids appear to be related to options of a runner’s excessive, specifically, decreased ranges of hysteria and elevated euphoria.

Some proof signifies that endocannabinoids are related to decreased notion of ache after train. In the meantime, proof for associations between endocannabinoids and sedation post-exercise is restricted.

Persistent cardio train, however, is related to decreased ranges of endocannabinoids and the neurobiological penalties of the supposed downregulation of the endocannabinoid system usually are not clear but (see determine under)

Determine: The endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG are elevated after acute train and the rise is related to options of the runner’s excessive. In distinction, power train results in a downregulation of the endocannabinoids and the neurobiological penalties of this downregulation usually are not but clear(10).

After reviewing the present analysis so far, the next are strategies on tips on how to stimulate endocannabinoid launch and produce a runner’s excessive:

  • – Working appears to be one of the best ways to extend endocannabinoid ranges within the blood, adopted by biking(11).
  • – Intensities of 70% to 85% of age-adjusted maximal coronary heart fee counsel to be one of the best vary to realize a rise in AEA and fewer incessantly in 2-AG(4).
  • – Length must be at the very least 20 minutes to realize anxiolytic

    (cut back anxiousness)(12), analgesic

    (ache relieving)(13), and constructive temper results. The very best constructive temper results might be anticipated after 30 to 35 minutes.

  • – Environment, like exercising in nature, may play a big function(14).
  • – Prior expertise within the chosen train efficiency could play an important function(15).
  • – The very best endocannabinoid ranges might be sampled instantly after train. An endocannabinoid enhance might be detected as much as quarter-hour postexercise(16).- Constructive impacts might be detected at the very least half-hour postexercise.

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    2.    Kraemer RR, Blair S, Kraemer GR, et al: Results of treadmill working on plasma beta-endorphin, corticotropin, and cortisol ranges in female and male 10K runners. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 58:845-51, 1989
    3.    Farrell PA, Gustafson AB, Garthwaite TL, et al: Affect of endogenous opioids on the response of chosen hormones to train in people. J Appl Physiol (1985) 61:1051-7, 1986
    4.    Siebers M, Biedermann SV, Bindila L, et al: Train-induced euphoria and anxiolysis don’t depend upon endogenous opioids in people. Psychoneuroendocrinology 126:105173, 2021
    5.    Hillard CJ: Circulating Endocannabinoids: From Whence Do They Come and The place are They Going? Neuropsychopharmacology 43:155-172, 2018
    6.    Fuss J, Steinle J, Bindila L, et al: A runner’s excessive depends upon cannabinoid receptors in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 112:13105-8, 2015
    7.    Crombie KM, Cisler JM, Hillard CJ, et al: Cardio train reduces anxiousness and worry rankings to risk and will increase circulating endocannabinoids in girls with and with out PTSD. Ment Well being Phys Act 20, 2021
    8.    Basso JC, Suzuki WA: The Results of Acute Train on Temper, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Overview. Mind Plast 2:127-152, 2017
    9.    Marin Bosch B, Bringard A, Logrieco MG, et al: Impact of acute bodily train on motor sequence reminiscence. Sci Rep 10:15322, 2020
    10.    Siebers M, Biedermann SV, Fuss J: Do Endocannabinoids Trigger the Runner’s Excessive? Proof and Open Questions. Neuroscientist 29:352-369, 2023
    11.    Sparling PB, Giuffrida A, Piomelli D, et al: Train prompts the endocannabinoid system. Neuroreport 14:2209-11, 2003
    12.    Petruzzello SJ, Landers DM, Hatfield BD, et al: A meta-analysis on the anxiety-reducing results of acute and power train. Outcomes and mechanisms. Sports activities Med 11:143-82, 1991
    13.    Rice D, Nijs J, Kosek E, et al: Train-Induced Hypoalgesia in Ache-Free and Persistent Ache Populations: State of the Artwork and Future Instructions. J Ache 20:1249-1266, 2019
    14.    Feuerecker M, Hauer D, Toth R, et al: Results of train stress on the endocannabinoid system in people underneath area situations. Eur J Appl Physiol 112:2777-81, 2012
    15.    Stone NL, Millar SA, Herrod PJJ, et al: An Evaluation of Endocannabinoid Concentrations and Temper Following Singing and Train in Wholesome Volunteers. Entrance Behav Neurosci 12:269, 2018
    16.    Cedernaes J, Fanelli F, Fazzini A, et al: Sleep restriction alters plasma endocannabinoids concentrations earlier than however not after train in people. Psychoneuroendocrinology 74:258-268, 2016


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