What Cannabis can do for Your Workout
By Angie McFarlane
Can incorporating a little herb help boost your workout?
Many people associate being physically active with a healthy lifestyle. However, fitness enthusiasts are beginning to add one essential component to their workout routine, cannabis.
We’ve long focused on the medicinal properties of cannabis, but what remains a largely undiscussed subject is the plant’s potential to boost athletic performance and recovery. The stigma surrounding cannabis use typically paints a picture of lazy, unmotivated couch potatoes, but cannabis definitely has a place in the world of athletics. If you’re wondering how cannabis can improve your physical health, read below as we weigh in on the subject of cannabis and fitness.
What Science Says About Cannabis and Exercise…
Cannabis and exercise have much more in common than we think. When we consume cannabis, the main psychoactive compound THC gets stored in our fat. But what you may not know, is the fact that this storage process can enhance a person’s workout, nearly up to a month after consumption!
As fat burns off the body, THC is released back into the bloodstream in small amounts, producing an effect similar to that of consuming a little herb. There’s also a parallel drawn between our BMI and THC release. The greater the BMI, the greater the increase of the release of the psychoactive cannabinoid.
Despite what many believe, endorphins aren’t the only cause of that euphoric feeling we feel during and after working out. Some research has found that much like the cannabis plant, physical activities such as exercise activates the endocannabinoid system and can cause the same sensation of “runner’s high.” Meaning, the increase in our body’s own natural endocannabinoids in the form of THC also causes the same sensation. Perhaps this unique response is a kind of coping mechanism to alleviate pain in the body.
What are the Benefits of Using Cannabis And Working Out?
The benefits of incorporating a workout routine into our daily lives are pretty clear. However, for people who want to experience the best of both cannabis and exercise, adding a little cannabis to the mix might not be such a bad idea!
Although it’s claimed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that the cannabis plant (both natural and man-made) is banned in performance, many have come to find that THC and CBD, two of the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis, work in a myriad of ways to heal the body.
If you’re new to the gym scene, you may quiver at the thought of being judged by all of the regular gym-goers. Cannabis is a natural mood enhancer that can reduce anxiety and help you focus on repetitive sets. Cannabis can also stimulate a burst of creativity and allow exercisers to feel more connected with their movements.
Increases Pain Tolerance
When you exercise, endorphins in your body are released to control pain and reach your goals. Similarly, the cannabinoids in cannabis may help ease that stubborn lower back or arm pain, letting you make that final lap or last hill climb. By adding cannabis to their routines, exercisers are able to push their limits to reach a new level of fitness without the annoyances of chronic aches and pains.
Keeps You Zeroed-In
You might be curious as to how cannabis could possibly help you stay active, but the link between cannabis and staying in the zone while working out is far more than coincidental. Consuming cannabis leads to increased focus and energy levels, helping you prepare to get in your “zone.”
Speeds Up Recovery
The natural inflammation that occurs in your body after a workout can make you sore the next day, or even days after if not taken care of. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may reduce swelling, alleviate stiff, sore muscles and joints from DOMS, which may get you back in the gym faster.
How Can I Maximize the Benefits Of Cannabis For My Workout?
Find the Right Strain
Cannabis is cannabis…right? Wrong. Whether you’re an experienced consumer or just learning about your options, understanding your strain options is key. Most strains are Sativa dominant or Indica dominant. Sativa dominant strains tend to produce a stimulating active feeling, while Indica dominant strains are more relaxing.
Some strains are higher in CBD than others are, so make sure you check the label for the cannabinol ratios. Many edibles have high ratios of CBD to THC, but be careful, the effects of edibles may not kick in for several hours. For all consumption methods, Start with a small sample and in a safe environment and see how your body reacts before trying more or hitting the gym.
Pick the Right Activity
To use cannabis as a tool for your workout, you should pick a physical activity that has piqued your genuine interest, and that you’ve done before. Another important tidbit is to set goals that are both challenging yet attainable such as choosing the appropriate reps or best jog time.
Paired with high levels of adrenaline, it’s claimed that cannabis can elevate your heart rate and drop your blood pressure. Because THC increases the diameter of blood vessels, the heart works harder in order to pump blood, thus, lowering your blood pressure. However, cannabis’ relationship with cardiovascular health remains unclear, as these events only represent 2% of all medical reports related to cannabis; more research is needed to fully understand how THC reacts with the body.
Pairing both human-produced endocannabinoids and cannabis-derived cannabinoids; exercise can become more productive and actually enjoyable. Since each person has their own unique endocannabinoid system that responds to the effects of cannabis differently, we recommend you talk to the budtenders at your local dispensary to find a strain that best suits your fitness goals.
Angie McFarlane has spent the last 5+ years helping brand and market numerous cannabis products in the Washington State recreational market. Her expertise in the industry brings a technical and business perspective beyond the average cannabis consumer and advocate. Angie lives in Seattle, loves the outdoors and her two kitties, and is a living force against the stoner stigma!