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Exercise has long been known to help reduce inflammation, and now scientists have found it promotes the release of natural cannabis-like substances which could be the reason why.

Many doctors prescribe or encourage patients with several illnesses to increase their exercise regime.

Part of the reason it is so powerful could be because of these natural substances, an explanation that could encourage the prescription of exercise for people with arthritis, cancer and heart disease.

It has been revealed by a study from the University of Nottingham that treated people suffering from arthritis with exercise. 

The results, published in Gut Microbes, found that the participants’ inflammation markers decreased, and levels of cannabis-like substances called endocannabinoids increased.

Exercise seemed to alter the gut microbes to produce these changes.

Dr Amrita Vijay, an author of the paper, said: "Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body's own cannabis-type substances. Which can have a positive impact on many conditions.

"As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids."

The study took 78 people with arthritis, asking 38 of them to do 15 minutes of daily strengthening exercises over a six-week period while the remaining 40 did nothing.

By the end of the six weeks, the 38 who had been doing the strengthening exercises had reduced their pain.

They also had more of the types of microbes in their guts that produce anti-inflammatory substances, along with lower amounts of cytokines and higher levels of endocannabinoids.

Importantly, one-third of the anti-inflammatory effects of the gut microbiome were caused by the endocannabinoids, meaning there was a strong link between the two.

This association could suggest people who do high volumes of exercise are benefiting from increased levels of endocannabinoids. 

As Dr Vijay says, this could mean that athletes get a lot of the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) through lifestyle habits.

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