Dogs love running just as much as humans do. Interestingly, our brains are wired to reward us for exercising. Researchers from the University of Arizona found that dogs have increased activation of endocannabinoids after running or exercise, just like humans. Endocannabinoids (ECB) are natural, internal brain chemicals that affect the brain, causing a feeling of well-being, and a bonus feeling of pleasure. This is commonly known as having a “runner’s high”.
A study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, measured ECBs in humans and dogs walking and running on a treadmill. They performed blood tests to check plasma ECB levels. Levels were much stronger after running versus walking. Moreover, both humans and dogs naturally feel the need for a good run because of the ECBs that are in place during and after exercise.
In contrast, this same study was also used with a ferret group (non-cursorial mammal). Ferrets had no change in ECB levels during any of the test periods. Dogs and humans are wired to run, but ferrets – not so much.
Just remember, our four-legged best friend would enjoy tagging along at our next jogging session.
Raichlen D, Foster A, Gerdman G, et al. 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 April 15; 215: 1331-1335.