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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exercise activates the endocannabinoid system.

  • Author(s): Sparling, PB
  • Giuffrida, A
  • Piomelli, D
  • Rosskopf, L
  • Dietrich, A
  • et al.

Extensive documentation exists showing that exercise induces analgesia and sedation. Despite decades of research attempting to explicate a neurochemical basis for these phenomena, the mechanism underlying these changes is unknown. Using trained male college students running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike for 50 min at 70-80% of maximum heart rate, we report here the first evidence that exercise of moderate intensity activates the endocannabinoid system, suggesting a new mechanism for exercise-induced analgesia and possibly other physiological and psychological adaptations to exercise.

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