Ever feel happier after a good workout? Studies show that exercise has a huge antidepressant effect and European researchers have figured out why.

Long and intense exercise stresses your body, and it responds by releasing hormones, including cortisol from your adrenal glands.

An increase of cortisol in your blood revs up a molecule of your endocannabinoid system called anandamide.

Anandamide signals regions of your brain to release a substance called BDNF, which can protect your neurons and act as an antidepressant.

Physical activity keeps the brain young. A study published in the NeuroImage shows for the first time that physical fitness directly impacts brain activity and function. Not only does it boost cognitive function, reduces stress and improves your memory.

With 30 minutes of exercise, your brain will feel more ‘plastic’, plasticity in the brain is important for learning, memory and motor skill coordination.

That amazing high or euphoria that you experience after working out is known as ‘’runner’s high”. Most people know this feeling as a release of endorphins but new research suggests otherwise.

Claiming that this feeling of euphoria is no different to the high you experience after smoking a joint. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a runner’s high is achieved via the brain’s ‘endocannabinoid system, which is the same one that is affected by the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana.’

“A runner’s high is a subjective sense of well-being some humans experience after prolonged exercise”.