As we do, dogs experience a « runner’s high » i.e. a jump of their endocannabinoid blood level after running.
It appears that we and our dogs are wired to run, a scientist says, as a consequence of the brain production of endocannabinoid that triggers our shared appetite for running.
Prof Raichlen and colleagues wanted to “to test the hypothesis that neurobiological rewards are linked to high-intensity exercise in cursorial mammals” (quoted). Their results just confirmed their hypothesis: “We show that humans and dogs share significantly increased exercise-induced eCB signaling following high-intensity endurance running” (quoted).
There are many similarities between the dogs and us, beside being mammals, loving our babies, loving to play (especially with balls or balloons), having a great sense of property, we also share, as I just have discovered it, thanks to Professor David Raichlen, the delights of the runner’s high.
As for us, human beings, running is for dogs a necessity, be it for hunting and chasing their prey or fleeing a danger such as a mightier predator.
So the evolution made the fact of running a real pleasure for our two species using for that purpose a little molecule secreted by our brain: the endocannabinoid. It acts as a reward for the individuals who manage to train and maintain their running capacities.
Professor Raichlen’s merit, as an anthropologist, stands in the fact that he demonstrates the phenomenon is not a human specificity but exists also for some other mammals close to us like dogs. (Note that non cursorial mammals like ferrets are excluded from this encouraging, rewarding mechanism).
Photos credits and writting by Philippe Ha-Vinh
More information and content:
Raichlen DA, Foster AD, Gerdeman GL, Seillier A, Giuffrida A. Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the ‘runner’s high’. The Journal of experimental biology. 2012 Apr;215(Pt 8):1331-1336. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.063677.
- Runner’s high motivated the evolution of exercise (eurekalert.org)
- The Evolution of the Runner’s High – New York Times Blogs (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Well: Phys Ed: Getting to the Root of Runner’s High (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Runner’s High Hardwired in People – And Dogs (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Running High and Saving Lives (naturenplanet.com)
- Runner’s high motivated the evolution of exercise (esciencenews.com)
- Chasing Down the Runner’s High (blogs.wsj.com)
- Why did we evolve to experience “runner’s high”? (io9.com)
- Runners’ Highs Evolved to Make Us Better Hunter Gatherers [Exercise] (gizmodo.com)
- ‘Wired To Run': Runner’s High May Have Been Evolutionary Advantage (wnyc.org)