How Run­ning Makes You High

Men's Health - Belly Off Guide - - FUEL YOUR FAT LOSS! - BY K. ALEISHA FETTERS IL­LUS­TRA­TION MIKE MCQUADE

Na­ture’s in­cen­tive pro­gramme still isn’t fully un­der­stood. Greg Gerde­man, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy, ex­plains the cur­rent the­ory

YOU GET IN THE GROOVE

When you run past your com­fort level (i.e. af­ter 30 min­utes at about 80% max heart rate), spe­cial cells se­crete two mood mod­i­fiers: en­dor­phins – which are opi­oids – and anan­damide, which is sim­i­lar to THC, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in mar­i­juana.

EN­DOR­PHINS COME KNOCK­ING

Your blood car­ries the two chem­i­cals to your blood-brain bar­rier, the gatekeeper to your brain cells. Anan­damide crosses eas­ily. But en­dor­phins are large and few make it in. No prob­lem, though: your brain also pro­duces en­dor­phins. Both chem­i­cals boost your mood – and per­haps your mileage.

BRAIN: “WHAT PAIN?”

The two mood boost­ers are now tapped into your cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, where they limit the signalling power of pain sen­sors called no­ci­cep­tors that spread out from your spinal cord. Re­sult: you don’t re­alise how much your legs are burn­ing.

EN­DOR­PHINS KICK IN

The en­dor­phins down­shift your brain’s pre­frontal and lim­bic re­gions, which reg­u­late your emo­tion and mo­ti­va­tion. You be­gin to feel calm and com­fort­able. Then, as more en­dor­phins reach these ar­eas, you may even start feel­ing eu­phoric.

IT’S HIGH TIME

Anan­damide trig­gers dopamine, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that con­trib­utes to lust, plea­sure and ad­dic­tion. It also binds to cannabi­noid re­cep­tors in your brain’s plea­sure cir­cuit, where it sends bliss vibes for min­utes or even hours. (And with­out the in­tense munchies!)

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