Is a Cannabis Fitness Regime Possible?
The concept of a well-adjusted, active lifestyle is subjective to the individual, with some marijuana enthusiasts advocating in favour of cannabis fitness as a means of maintaining a healthy balance. However, what works for one individual may not be for another, with different strategies and plans targeted at achieving various specific goals.
The concept of infusing exercise with cannabis is not new. In fact, some activities may even incorporate the two in an effort to enhance the overall fitness experience. Whether this yields any better results remains up for debate.
However, there is enough endorsement from the cannabis community to suggest that marijuana may complement a workout, leading to the creation of a new subcategory of lifestyle and wellness.
Pairing Cannabis Products to Physical Activity
As most are likely already aware, there are many different cannabis products currently available on the market, including edibles, topicals, tinctures, concentrates, such as shatter, and regular cannabis flower.
All of these products supply various effects while impacting and interacting with the endocannabinoid system uniquely. These variations are due to the differences in delivery, onset time and potency between the products.
For instance, some may choose to ingest a low-dose THC gummy for a relaxing yoga class to produce the desired effect of letting the mind wander while sinking deeper into the extended stretches.
Another example could be users ingesting a balanced CBD: THC tincture before a long run with the intention that it may help alleviate some of the pain from their legs getting sore and expanding on trains of thought while maintaining cerebral functionality.
Of course, incorporating marijuana into exercise is not for everyone, and it ultimately depends on how ingesting cannabis affects the individual.
Is Mixing Marijuana and Exercise Safe? Cannabis Fitness Safety
There are hundreds of cannabinoids present in marijuana, with THC and CBD being the most widely known. These two compounds produce differing effects, and CBD is a popular choice among athletes and those participating in various fitness activities because it is non-psychoactive.
For users ingesting THC and using marijuana before exercising, there is an increased risk for injury when performing exercise while under the influence. In this sense, many athletes have distinct strategies for incorporating cannabis use into their regimens.
For instance, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, THC diminishes strength and speed.
Furthermore, research from a 2018 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine claims that the cannabinoid also likely impacts coordination, spatial awareness and risk assessment.
In more simple terms, THC may hinder a user’s ability to accurately gauge how far they should push themselves, be it with a certain amount of weight or level of exertion.
As such, users should avoid cannabis use before more involved exercises. Such activities include lifting weights, high-intensity interval training, outdoor cycling or rock climbing and other activities that require focused mental awareness, motor control and concentrated physical coordination.
That said, some research suggests that cannabis causes bronchodilation, which dilates the bronchi and bronchioles in the lungs, thereby decreasing resistance in respiratory airways and increasing airflow to the lungs, serving as a potential method of helping exercise-induced asthma.
However, smoking can potentially lead to adverse health effects due to the number of carcinogens, including chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Since most athletes want to protect their lungs, most will ingest their cannabis through a concentrate, extract or edible.
Should a user incorporate cannabis into their physical activity, it should be reserved for low-risk endurance exercise, such as longer runs. However, it is crucial to monitor doses accordingly.
What Does Science Say?
Data from a study from the University of Colorado Boulder disclosed that almost 82% of participants who partake in legal marijuana use it before or after a workout, most significantly because it makes the exercise “more enjoyable,” with half reporting it “increases their motivation” to workout.
That said, according to the 2017 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, there is no research-based evidence to support the claim that THC results in any noticeable improvements in aerobic or athletic performance.
Additionally, in reference to the previously mentioned study from the University of Colorado Boulder, most participants felt that smoking or using cannabis had a neutral effect on their fitness abilities. However, 77.6% claimed that cannabis assisted in their recovery time from exercise.
CBD for Recovery After Workouts
While there is a lack of empirical evidence specifically investigating cannabis as a method for advancing recovery time post-workout, preliminary research suggests that cannabinoids have the potential to minimize pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
Cannabidiol or CBD remains amongst the most popular compound for recovery due to its perceived anti-inflammation and pain-relieving properties. These effects cause many to believe that CBD is an effective way to reduce inflammation, relieve sore muscles and even promote better sleep.
However, more research is necessary to substantiate these claims.
Cannabis Fitness – Anecdotal Support
While many cannabis users speak to the efficacy of marijuana to enhance their athletic performance or increase recovery time, at least right now, there is a lack of research-based evidence to support these claims.
As a person’s fitness is not a linear concept, and a well-balanced lifestyle may appear different from person to person, it will take further investigation to determine whether cannabis ultimately contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Whether anecdotal evidence speaks strictly to the efficacy of incorporating cannabis into one’s exercise regimen or if the benefits are only strictly perceived by the individual user remains up for debate. At this juncture, only time and further study will tell.