I walk 3 miles every day of my life for both my mental and physical health. I am the first to admit that some days I have to dig very deep to find the motivation to walk. It is days like those where cannabis comes in handy. It makes my walk so much more interesting and takes away my muscle pain. In this article I will discuss the many pros of using cannabis during physical activity as well as a few cons. I will also share some tips on dosing, strains and delivery methods in order to make the most out of using cannabis during your fitness routine.
Reasons To Use Cannabis During Physical Activity
- Increases the motivation to exercise
- Makes the workout more enjoyable, especially with repetitive tasks
- Helps speed up recovery post-workout
- Reduces the body’s inflammatory response which reduces pain
- Reduces anxiety for those with performance anxiety
- Helps to focus on the activity, on form and on engaging muscle groups
- Activates serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain which produces a natural high; feeling better and more positive after exercising
- May increase your rate of fat loss, leading to healthier weight
- May reduce your level of fasting insulin and waist circumference
- May help regulate metabolic function
- May inhibit exercise-induced asthma
- Cannabis helps you get “into the zone”
The ‘flow state” or being “in the zone” are terms used to describe one’s mental state while performing an activity which is all consuming with the focus entirely on the activity to the exclusion of everything else.
Cannabis usage helps athletes to get into the flow state by doing the following:
- Combines the mind and body experience to work symbiotically
- Elicits a relaxed mental state by alleviating stress and anxiety
- Sativa strains have been shown to increase focus and energy levels
- Studies show that cannabinoids may regulate neuroplasticity which occurs in the brain when learning and mastering a special skill. The brain goes through structural changes by producing new neuron connections.
- Experiences a slowed perception of time
- Enjoys feelings of euphoria and accomplishment
In a survey-based study of 600 cannabis users, 21 years of age and above, in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the following results were collected:
Those who used cannabis an hour prior to working out and/or within 4 hours of the beginning of their workout exercised 43 minutes more per week than non-users.
Cannabis Users Tend To Exercise More
- 52% of cannabis users were more motivated to exercise
- 70% of cannabis users enjoyed their workout more
- 78% of cannabis users reported that they recovered more quickly post-workout
Impact of Exercise on the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
A 2003 study, conducted at Washington University, concluded that exercise activates the ECS in a very similar way to that of cannabis. Runner’s High or Endorphin High is the result of the ECS response to pain reduction during exercise. This is accomplished by way of the production of its own natural cannabinoids.
CBD and Exercise
Studies show that CBD reduces inflammation, eases pain and stiffness, and inhibits delayed muscle soreness after workouts.
CBD has strong antioxidant properties, even more than vitamin C and vitamin D, which helps control inflammation in athletes.
THC and Exercise
THC is stored in fat. As your body burns off fat, the stored THC begins to be released into the bloodstream in small amounts. This has the same effect as ingesting small amounts of cannabis. In fact, you may experience a surge of energy when doing a cardio workout up to 28 days after consuming cannabis. THC blood levels have by shown to increase by 15% directly after moderate exercise, but that increase only lasts for 2 hours post workout.
Choosing the Right Strain
- Choose sativa strains for your pre-workout regimen. They typically provide an increase in focus, energy, creativity and euphoria
- Choose indica strains for post-workout regimen. They typically help with recovery by relieving stress and anxiety, reducing nausea, and increasing appetite.
Recommended Delivery Methods
- Vaporizing flower, concentrates and dabs will provide benefits for 30-90 minutes.
- Edibles are great for endurance activities. The effects won’t be felt for 30 min to 2 hours, but they will last for 2-4 hours.
- Tinctures are discreet and portable. The effects are fairly immediate and may last for 1-3 hours.
- Topicals are ideal for easing muscle, joint and ligament pain and are very portable.
Always start low and slowly increase. If you have never used cannabis while exercising, it is highly recommended that you try different dosages and delivery methods at home before you embark on a grueling workout schedule.
If you are new to exercising with cannabis, start by going outside where you have fresh air and the space to connect your body and your mind.
Downside of Using Cannabis
Cannabis users need to take care about exercising too much and lifting too many weights. This may lead to injury and overuse syndromes.
Cannabis may impair one’s athletic performance if the user does not choose the correct strain, dosage and delivery method.
It is important to set challenging but attainable goals. Start off with an activity in which you are competent and that you enjoy.
marketwatch.com, Cannabis Users Who Mix Weed and Workouts Tend to Exercise More, Nicole Lyn Pesce, May 2, 2019
leafly.com, Three Things Everyone Should Know About Cannabis and Exercise, Anna Wilcox
drgreenrelief.com, Supercharge Your Workout with Medical Cannabis
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pub med 28392338
keytocannabis.com, Flow State: Cannabis Helps Athletes Get in The Zone
keytocannabis.com, How To Exercise High: Cannabis Tips For Athletes