Are you ready to take your mind and body to an even higher level by combining cannabis with exercise and sports performance? If you’ve answered yes, you’re in for a treat in learning about how researchers are discovering how cannabis is being used in sports and exercise.
Consuming cannabis before, during, and/or after a workout can elevate your mood to help you focus on pushing beyond your typical limits in exercising or competing in sports.
There are many benefits to consuming cannabis-based on scientific studies and anecdotal reports from consumers, such as elevated mood, regulation of metabolism, increased focus, and reduction in pain, as several other beneficial properties.
Let’s find out in more detail how cannabis could be a new performance-enhancing element of your next workout.
Does Cannabis Help Your Pre-workout?
According to some reports, cannabis can enhance your workout by lifting your mood and allowing for more of a positive look at an otherwise daunting task we ideally aim to incorporate into our lives three times a week.
Over our lifetime, that’s a lot of mustering up the willpower to keep your mind and body ready to maintain consistent shape.
We’ll look at how cannabis can possibly be a performance and mood-enhancing addition to your next exercise session.
But before you even begin to strain yourself thinking about your next physically demanding exercise, it has been shown that cannabis consumers have a lower Body Mass Index compared to the average of the population.
So just partaking in consuming cannabis can alter your body chemistry before you even hit the gym.
Cannabis has been looked at with regards to insulin levels, which is the hormone responsible for moving glucose (sugar) from our blood into our cells so it can be converted to energy.
If this metabolic process doesn’t work properly the cells will receive more glucose than necessary and can lead to weight gain.
Chronically elevated blood glucose can also cause insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.
The study found that through raising metabolism, regular cannabis consumers had lower levels of fasting insulin in the body before eating, which is lower in healthier people and lower insulin resistance which allows the body to continue to break down insulin in the future where necessary.
Does Cannabis Affect Exercise?
Because cannabis is a natural vasodilator it allows for veins to increase in size allowing for more blood flow which can relax muscles and CBD is thought to also reduce blood pressure slightly as well as reducing anxiety which could make for a more relaxing session.
Muscle relaxation and pain reduction effects have all been associated with cannabis use making for a strong argument that these effects are complementary to working out and the high amounts of good stress we put on our bodies to look and feel our best.
It should be noted that smoking can also increase your blood pressure as you become high so keep in mind how you intend to ingest cannabis as a pre-workout practice or how you have reacted to cannabis and exercise in the past.
Additionally, while exercising the endocannabinoid Anandamide, the chemical responsible for a modulatory effect on the brain’s reward circuitry becomes elevated naturally in the blood.
This corresponds to the effect cannabis creates as it binds to those same receptors, creating the feeling most experience as euphoria.
This can be useful while pushing through the discomfort you feel when you’ve reached the limits of your strength, allowing you to focus on continuing with additional repetitions for increasing your overall ability.
Cannabis And Exercise Research?
The academic research points to a stance that cannabis has no significant performance-enhancing effects compared to our non-consuming friends but also notes that study around the topic is generally lacking and is currently not all-encompassing.
Cannabis is also known to induce tachycardia or a higher heart rate that can decrease the maximum work capacity of your body after smoking as well as generally being considered as harmful by some.
What’s clear is that over 80%, a large majority of individuals from a specific study, endorse cannabis to be used with their exercise, and those who did tend to be younger and male.
Those using cannabis with their workout tended to work out on average a while longer or more often but it is unclear whether the associated use of cannabis extended their workout or they just happen to workout more based on other factors.
Half of the respondents reported that cannabis increases their motivation to exercise.
Another survey of 1,274 athletes found that users fell into three main groups:
- Older athletes who primarily use medicinal CBD.
- Mixed-age athletes who use THC and CBD recreationally.
- Mixed-age athletes who had used cannabis for the longest period of time, both THC and CBD.
Positive subjective experiences for the use of THC and CBD in combination showed the most benefits to well-being and calm with minimal adverse effects.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Working Out High?
To summarize, the findings appear to be mixed when it comes to cannabis as a performance enhancer but if you’ve found cannabis to benefit your workout and has allowed you to push yourself further than you were before, then that’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
The following is a shortlist of the pros and cons of working out high that have been either backed up by scientific evidence or anecdotal report but also require more investigation.
Pros Of Working Out High On Cannabis
- Can boost your mood allowing you to enjoy your workout more
- Enhanced focus during exercise
- Muscle relaxation and vasodilation
- Euphoria gained from Anandamide which acts as a minor temporary pain reliever
Cons Of Working Out High On Cannabis
- Increased heart rate
- May affect balance and coordination
- Possibly no significant effect to neutral effects
- Smoking has long been known to be negative for one’s health
Given these, it’s good to keep in mind that THC may impair judgment and balance in some people so be cautious when attempting any cannabis indulgent workout and consult your doctor for any medical advice related to cannabis and your workouts.
Are Cannabinoids Performance-enhancing?
Overall, direct studies on CBD specifically as it relates to exercise performance are lacking and most studies have been conducted on non-athlete populations.
Studies that have been done do indicate helpful properties but also neuroprotective and analgesic effects of CBD in animal models as well.
Reports on CBD efficacy for normal sleep aid still need more evidence but because CBD is generally considered safe, perhaps, should be the main ingredient for a novice who wants to incorporate cannabis into their workout regiment.
It has been concluded in examinations of some studies that THC did not enhance aerobic exercise or strength specifically.
As more and more people are just beginning to use cannabis in general it will be very important that further research is done in this area so that people are getting the right information to better themselves.
Should You Use Cannabis For Exercise Recovery?
Due to their affinity to the endocannabinoid system in your body, THC and CBD attach to their respective receptors within which can affect homeostasis positively, reduce minor pain from working out.
This may contribute to alleviating onset muscle soreness from previous workouts allowing you to recover.
It’s acknowledged that many athletes consume cannabis for the euphoric effects that aid in reducing stress which can be said to lead to better normal sleep.
Sleep is highly beneficial for performing at an optimal level.
With this in mind, cannabis used in a light regiment of what is considered a standard dose of 10mg of CBD may be enough for a good place to start and could be taken as an alternative in place of pain medications that are potentially harder on the body.
More advanced cannabis users may want to explore other cannabinoids, such as delta 8 THC, as a supplement in aiding them before, during, and after exercise or sports recovery.
As we wait for the science to continue to give us results, perhaps we can have a more candid and insightful conversation with our doctors and medical professionals regarding our intended cannabis use and exercise or the degree to which cannabis is already a major component of how you get and stay healthy.