Cannabis users have a reputation for being “lazy” or lacking motivation, but recent studies show this may not be 100% accurate. With the benefits of cannabis becoming more commonly known, individuals are beginning to explore other applications for it, including exercise.
What Are the Benefits of Using Cannabis During Exercise?
Although many believe that the use of cannabis decreases an individual’s activity level, studies show that this is not always true. A study was conducted “Examining Relationships Between Cannabis Use and Exercise Behavior in States With Legalized Cannabis.” The results indicated that the “participants who endorsed using cannabis shortly before/after exercise reported that doing so enhances their enjoyment of and recovery from exercise, and approximately half reported that it increases their motivation to exercise.”
Other individuals reported that using cannabis before working out elevated their motivation and mood while they were active. This, in turn, increased their desire to participate in exercise thereafter. “Data was compiled through online surveys from approximately 600 people living in states where cannabis is legal. About 80 percent of respondents copped to using the drug before or after hitting the gym, while 67 percent admitted to using weed both pre and post workout. People who got high within hours of exercising logged 43 more minutes of activity each week compared to participants who didn’t time workouts around drug use.”
Inflammation and Pain
One of the benefits of cannabis is the reduction of pain and inflammation. If used before or shortly after a workout, it may help alleviate some of the discomforts that come along with exercise. “According to Chin and Sulak, it’s been shown to enhance immune system function, stop muscle spasms and seizures (in people with epilepsy or multiple sclerosis, for example), decrease inflammation and pain, and speed up healing and recovery.”
Are There Downfalls to Using Cannabis While Exercising?
As this is a new area of research, there is not a significant amount of data to support whether or not cannabis use prior/post to exercise has any negative implication. However, some things should be considered before using cannabis while working out:
How Do You React to Cannabis?
Everyone’s body reacts differently to cannabis. It is essential to know exactly how you react, so you do not put yourself in an unsafe situation.
Research Shows That the Use Of Cannabis Can Reduce Reaction Times.
If you are planning on participating in an activity that requires you to react quickly, it probably is not a good idea to smoke cannabis before participation.
Using Cannabis While Exercising Differs From Using it Recreationally.
Typically, when people use cannabis prior to exercising, they are microdosing. This is when a smaller amount of cannabis is ingested to receive the benefits, but not enough to experience a high, as this can lead to fatigue, defeating the purpose.
Runners-high vs. Cannabis-high?
While exercising the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is activated in a similar fashion, as to when cannabis is used. Our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, referred to as endocannabinoids, that are released while partaking in endurance-like activity, such as running. Both endocannabinoids and the cannabinoids found in cannabis, react with ECS, and can produce a high when present. A study was performed “using trained male college students running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike for 50 minutes at 70–80% of maximum heart rate, we found that exercise of moderate intensity dramatically increased concentrations of anandamide in blood plasma. Because activation of the endocannabinoid system reduces pain sensations14 and alters emotional and cognitive processes, this finding has implication for some of the psychological effects that accompany exercise”
Overall, the use of cannabis prior to or after exercise can be beneficial to increase motivation and reduce post-workout pain, based on the studies that have been conducting thus far. It is essential that when using cannabis while exercising, your safety is considered above all else.