We’ve all heard about the elusive runner’s high. Runners like running, and they even feel good doing it! Experienced runners get a sense of elation that hits after a couple miles. Reportedly, it’s so good that you feel like you could keep going for another five miles. But many newbies and seasoned runners alike are still waiting for that legendary euphoric moment to happen to them.
The reason? It’s not so easy to come by. The exact cause of a runner’s high is still a bit unknown, though researchers recognize it has something to do with how the body—and brain, specifically—change during exercise.
5Newer research has found endocannabinoids play a larger role in creating this high than endorphins
But scientists have pointed out that endorphins are actually too large to pass the blood-brain barrier quickly, which means that it’s not very likely they’d have direct effects on the brain—rather, they work in the muscles to dampen pain.
More recent research from the University of Heidelberg suggests that endocannabinoids, another type of chemical our bodies release during exercise that have an impact similar to cannabis (yes, marijuana ), deserve most of the credit.
The evolutionary theory is that our bodies release this natural drug to take the edge off physical activity—which, back in the day, was essential for finding food and fleeing predators (a.k.a. staying alive).