Cannabis has long been associated with relaxation and laziness, but recent research suggests that it may actually have several benefits for fitness enthusiasts.
From helping to get you out the door, enhancing the workout itself, or aiding in post-workout recovery, cannabis could be a useful addition to any fitness routine.
In fact, a 2019 study asked 600+ consumers in states where cannabis is legal for recreational use whether or not they use cannabis when they exercise. Here's what they said:
82 percent reported that they used cannabis with exercise
70 percent said it increased the enjoyment of their workouts
80 percent felt it enhanced their recovery
But don't expect cannabis to make you run faster or jump higher... only 35 percent felt it actually improved their performance.
The next time you're looking to break a sweat, consider using cannabis in the following ways.
Before a workout to get “in the zone”
Some people find that using cannabis before a workout can help to improve focus and motivation. It may also help to reduce anxiety and stress, which can be beneficial for those who get nervous before a big workout or competition. Additionally, cannabis has been shown to have pain-relieving properties, which can be helpful for those with sore muscles or joint pain.
"As we get older, exercise starts to hurt, and that is one reason older adults don't exercise as much," said Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience and Gibson's faculty advisor on the SPACE study, noting that cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. "If cannabis could ease pain and inflammation, helping older adults to be more active, that could be a real benefit."
Enhance your "runner's high" during your workout
Recent studies suggest that it is not endorphins that are responsible for the famous "runner's high" but rather endogenous cannabinoids, naturally produced cannabinoid-like brain chemicals that kick in after a period of exercise, binding to receptors in the brain to make us euphoric and alert. By ingesting CBD or THC, which bind to those same receptors, athletes might experience those feelings more intensely or more rapidly..
"It is possible that exogenous cannabinoids like THC or CBD might activate the endocannabinoid system in a way that mimics the runner's high," Laurel Gibson, PhD Student in Dept of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of Colorado, Boulder
After a workout to recover
Pro Athletes around the world (including track sensation Sha'Carri Richardson who famously missed the Tokyo Games after testing positive for cannabis) count on cannabis as part of their workout routine. For Olympians like her, cannabis isn't meant to boost performance, but to help her body recover.
Cannabis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in the recovery process. Cannabis may also help to reduce muscle spasms and cramps, which can be a common issue after an intense workout. Balanced cannabis products that are rich in CBD in addition to THC work best in supporting the recovery process.
Additionally, many people find that using cannabis after a workout can help to improve sleep, which is an important part of the recovery process as it's when your body does most of its muscle rebuilding. Insomnia which is common amongst runners has been on the rise in the United States.
Overall, it is important to note that everyone's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. For those who are interested in exploring the potential benefits of cannabis for fitness, we recommend checking out our Light Cannabis blends that come in precisely balanced CBD-to-THC ratios.