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Our bodies produce cannabis-like substances after exercise, study finds

Researchers say the substances can help counter inflammation

Person stretching before exercise
Photo (c) PeopleImages - Getty Images
While previous studies have highlighted the ways that regular exercise can help reduce chronic inflammation, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham may explain exactly why this happens. 

Their work showed that the body produces endocannabinoids after exercise that help reduce inflammation. They say the substance is similar to cannabis and can help reduce symptoms of conditions like arthritis. 

“Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-type substances,” said researcher Dr. Amrita Vijay. “Which can have a positive impact on many conditions.” 

Improving health conditions with exercise

For the study, the researchers had nearly 80 people with arthritis participate in a six-week exercise program. Half of the group did muscle-strengthening exercises for 15 minutes per day; the other half of the group didn’t exercise. 

The researchers learned that the participants who were consistently exercising for six weeks had better health outcomes than those who weren’t exercising. 

The researchers noticed that those who exercised produced more endocannabinoids and had fewer inflammatory markers throughout their bodies. Participants who exercised also reported feeling less pain overall. 

The researchers hope these findings can help consumers who are struggling with conditions that are known to increase inflammation, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. 

“As interest in cannabinoid oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids,” Dr. Vijay said. 

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