Runners High: How THC Affects Exercise

Posted by London Kelley on Oct 30th 2023

Runners High: How THC Affects Exercise

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Physical activity has always been associated with a natural high, sometimes called "runner's high." This phenomenon has intrigued scientists for years, and recent research suggests that THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, may play a role in enhancing this experience.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of runner's high, explore the science behind it, and uncover how THC intersects with exercise.

Understanding the Concept of Runner's High

Runner's high is that euphoric feeling that comes as a result of pushing your body physically. While this phenomenon is commonly associated with running, it can occur for any aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up and endorphins flowing.

The phrase is used to describe that feeling of transcendence, where the mind and body become one with the movement. This incredible sensation has captivated athletes and researchers alike, leading to a deeper exploration of its underlying mechanisms.

The Science Behind Runner's High

Runner's high is caused by the natural chemical boost that takes place with endurance exercise. That release of endorphins and the increase of the body's endocannabinoids produce greater feelings of satisfaction and a sense of pleasure and may even be effective as a natural pain relief.

These remarkable chemicals flood the brain, increasing blood levels of endorphins and producing positive effects for the mind and body, like reduced anxiety and a more positive exercise experience.

Runners High and Your Endocannabinoid System: What's The Connection?

According to a study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, exerciseincreases the levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream, and according to data, partaking in cannabis prior to running is associated with greater feelings of enjoyment and tranquility.

The intricate interplay between endocannabinoids, endorphins, and other neurotransmitters during exercise creates a potent cocktail beneficial to your physical health.

Here is a quick refresher on how the endocannabinoid system works:

Endocannabinoids are the cannabinoids that your body naturally produces on its own. These compounds interact with cannabinoid receptors located throughout your body the same way hemp and cannabis cannabinoids like CBD and THC do.

Endocannabinoids are involved in various physiological processes, including pain regulation, mood, and appetite, and they are partially responsible for the good feelings experienced after exercising. The endocannabinoid system also plays a crucial role in the body's overall homeostasis, helping to maintain balance and harmony.

When endocannabinoid levels are balanced, the body can provide the resources necessary to combat inflammation and keep immune function strong, protecting your wellness and longevity.

The Psychological Impact of Runner's High

Now let's talk about some of the impressive physiological aspects behind the runner's high. Beyond the release of endorphins, exercise reliably increases levels of endocannabinoids, improving mental health and outcomes.

Regular engagement in physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhance cognitive function, and boost overall mood.

Hilary A. Marusak, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, states, "studies in humans and in animal models are pointing to endocannabinoids — not endorphins — as the star players in the runner's high."

However, several studies, like this one here, have also looked into how exercise leads to improvement in brain performance and preventing cognitive decline. This process, called neurogenesis, is where new brain cells are produced.

THC: An Overview

THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp in small amounts. It is responsible for the mind-altering effects one experiences after consuming cannabis.

What is THC?

THC is the primary cannabinoid that gives cannabis its potent effects. When consumed, THC interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating various physiological processes and maintaining homeostasis.

THC Can Influence:

  • Mood
  • Pain perception
  • Memory
  • Appetite

The Intersection of THC and Exercise

Now that you understand the crossroads between endocannabinoids and vigorous exercise, here are some of the multifaceted ways cannabis use can improve performance and recovery.

THC and Endurance

In the study mentioned above on how cannabis enhances exercise, participants ran an average of 3.88 miles. Study participants reported “a more positive exercise experience” when they ran immediately after having used cannabis compared to when they did not. These results suggest that THC may enhance endurance during physical activity and induce more of those "reward" feelings.

A contradiction in cannabis research is how THC is typically associated with a decrease in motivation, like that couch-lock effect that can come with some strains. However, it's fascinating to see new data and anecdotal reports of people using cannabis to enhance their endurance, from golfing and yoga to running and snowboarding.

What we understand is that endocannabinoid levels in the human body have an effect on perceived effort and pain tolerance, allowing individuals to push through fatigue and engage in more prolonged periods of exercise. These exciting findings will hopefully inspire more research on how cannabis can have beneficial effects for athletes running long distances and enduring vigorous exercise.

Impacts of THC on Muscle Recovery

The therapeutic nature of THC can provide many benefits to athletes post-exercise. Cannabinoids like THC interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the body which regulate pain and inflammatory responses. This can explain why medical cannabis users find relief in utilizing this natural plant approach without enduring the side effects of many drugs.

Cannabis and THC products' beneficial effects on muscle recovery are another area of interest for researchers. Scientific findings so far suggest that cannabis can be used to alleviate post-workout soreness and inflammation, thus aiding in recovery.

This is another positive effect cannabis use can have on exercise and recovery.

Try Hemp Extract Gummies for Exercise Support

The Standard BM Hemp Extract Gummies can complement your exercise routine to induce more of those pleasurable feelings that come with high levels of physical activity. They can also provide post-workout support to soothe discomfort and relax sore muscles.

The goal is to find the sweet spot where cannabis use is helping and not hindering. If the dose is too high, it can impair your performance. Start with a small dose by cutting your gummy in half or quarters to ensure that the THC amount is helpful for your activity level.

Written by London Kelley