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The runner’s high — it’s the feeling that every fitness newbie dreams of. To reach that peak of your workout and experience that meditative trance — one where you actually don’t loathe exercise — is pure bliss.

For years, this feeling was attributed to our body’s release of endorphins, but scientists recently discovered the “runner’s high” is actually achieved as a result of a different substance: endocannabinoids, a.k.a. our body’s own version of cannabis.

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According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, when we exercise we increase a chemical in our body called anandamide, which is also known as the “bliss” molecule. Unlike endorphins, this chemical crosses the blood-brain barrier, and when it does, it activates the same receptors that marijuana does. Enter the runner’s high.

“Scientists believe the endocannabinoid anandamide has an especially potent ability to lift mood, dull pain, and dilate the blood vessels and bronchial tubes in the lungs,” said Dr. Jeff Brown, author of the book, The Runner’s Brain, according to an article in Runner’s World. “When your brain and body cells release enough of these happiness molecules, you get the rush of good feelings that lead to the runner’s high." 

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So basically, running is a healthy — and free — way of getting high, no marijuana required. Think about that the next time you’re looking for some motivation to hit the pavement. And if that’s not enough, we’ve rounded up a little more inspiration, courtesy of social media. Enjoy!

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