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Exercise-induced endocannabinoids reduce anxiety, says study

Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety in women

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Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety

An increase in endocannabinoids circulating in the body after exercise has been found to have psychological benefits in women.

Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety and fear of threat in women both with and without PTSD.

Researchers believe this is potentially due to the exercise-induced increases in concentrations of endocannabinoids circulating in the body.

Similar to cannabinoids, endocannabinoids are molecules produced by the body when it needs them, to keep things functioning well.

While exercise is known to induces changes in mental state and wellbeing, previous findings suggesting an increase in concentrations of endocannabinoids after a work out could be responsible for these changes.

A team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US examined the impact of moderate intensity exercise in women with and without a history of trauma and PTSD.

Anxiety and fear ratings to electric shock administration and mood states were measured, as well as circulating concentrations of endocannabinoids following 30 minutes on a treadmill at 70 to 75 percent maximum heart rate. 

Findings revealed that anxiety and fear ratings to ‘predictable and unpredictable threats’ were significantly lower following exercise, compared to rest.

Analysis also indicated that those who saw greater increases in endocannabinoids experienced greater reductions in anxiety and fear.

There were also ‘significant’ reductions in fatigue, confusion, total mood disturbance, and increases in positive affect following exercise for both those with and without PTSD.

Writing in an abstract, the authors stated: “The mechanisms responsible for the anxiolytic effects of exercise are not fully understood, although recent studies suggest a role for the endocannabinoid (eCB) system.”

They concluded: “Results from this study suggest that aerobic exercise exerts psychological benefits in women with PTSD, potentially due to exercise-induced increases in circulating concentrations of eCBs.”

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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