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Physiol Behav. 2018 Dec 19. pii: S0031-9384(18)30825-4. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.12.018. [Epub ahead of print]

Weight loss and improved mood after aerobic exercise training are linked to lower plasma anandamide in healthy people.

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Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Departament of Neurology and Neurosurgery, 669, Pedro de Toledo, CEP 04039-032 São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address:
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Departament of Sports Science, 6627, Pres. Antônio Carlos Av, CEP 31270-901 Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Departament of Psychobiology, 862, Botucatu, CEP 04032-030 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Albert Einstein Israeli Hospital, Brain Institute, 627/701, Avenida Albert Einstein, CEP 05652-900 São Paulo, Brazil; Universidade de São Paulo, Medical School, Psychiatry Institute, 785, Rua Dr. Ovídio Pires de Campos: CEP 05403-903 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Anandamide, a major endocannabinoid, participates in energy metabolism homeostasis and neurobehavioral processes. In a secondary analyses of an open-label, randomized controlled trial, we investigated the long-term effect of aerobic exercise on resting plasma anandamide, and explored its relationship with changes in body weight, cardiorespiratory fitness, and mood status in healthy, physically inactive individuals. Participants recruited between March 2013 to August 2015 at the UNIFESP's Neurology/Psychobiology Department were randomly allocated into a 12-weeks supervised moderate exercise program, or into waitlist, control condition. Thirty-four participants (age = 38 ± 11.5, BMI = 26.6 ± 3.6) were intention to treat-analysed (Exercise: n = 17; Control: n = 17). After intervention, there were significant decreases in plasma anandamide (p < .01), anger, anxiety, and body weight (all p < .05), whereas cardiorespiratory fitness increased (p < .05) in the exercise group. There were no significant changes in any variable for the control group. In the whole cohort, adjusted R2 of multiple linear regressions showed that 12.2% of change body weight was explained by changes in anandamide (β = 0.391, p = .033), while 27% of change in mood disturbance (β = 0.546, p = .003), and 13.1% of change in anger (β = 0.404, p = .03) was explained by changes in anandamide. Our data suggest that the weight loss and mood improvement through regular moderate exercise may involve changes in anandamide metabolism/signaling. Trials registration: #NCT01972607.


Endocannabinoids; Exercise; Mental Health; Peak Oxygen Uptake; Physical activity; Weight loss

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