Weeding Through Your Denver Workout: The Benefits of Adding Cannabis to Your Exercise Routine

Two things that the Mile High City is known for are cannabis and having a fit population. But what about combining the two? The benefits of working out while high are vast and varied. Studies show that working out on cannabis can lower your heart rate, reduce muscle pain, and increase the release of endorphins. When combined with CBD for recovery, working out high is a great way to stay in shape without feeling sore or tired afterward!

Cannabis and Exercise: Giving “Runner’s High” a Whole New Meaning

For most, the term “stoner” brings to mind a certain stereotypical image. And that image is certainly not one of an athlete. It usually involves a couch, a pizza box, and an episode of Family Guy.

But the cannabis community is working on changing that stereotype – by getting off the couch and into some running shoes! The benefits of working out while high are vast and varied. Studies show that working out on cannabis can lower your heart rate, reduce muscle pain, and increase the release of endorphins.

stoned woman running outdoors

The Stoner-Athlete Reality

Digging into health trends reveals that the couch-laden pothead we tend to imagine is not as common in reality. Studies conducted in the United States have found that cannabis users are typically slimmer than people who don’t use cannabis. 80% of cannabis users also say they use the plant either before or after exercise. Additionally, those who mix cannabis with their exercise routines also spend more time exercising during the week, on average: 138 minutes per week versus 124 minutes for non-users.

These numbers mean there has got to be something unique about combining workouts and cannabis. (After all, you don’t hear many people extolling the benefits of exercising while drunk).

Working Out High vs Sober, Does it Make a Difference in Performance or Endurance?

high man lifting weights

One of the most common reports from those who combine cannabis and exercise is that it makes working out more fun. This is not surprising, as cannabis makes most things more fun. And if something is more fun, it stands to reason that someone might do it for a longer time and with more enthusiasm. In terms of exercise, this means longer and more productive workouts.

Many users also report that using cannabis pre-work allows them to get into a meditative state and push themselves harder, working to the point of actual exhaustion rather than just working until they feel tired.

Others say that it allows them to be more mindful of their body and to focus on their running rhythm or focus on specific muscle groups. This means working out while high can be a meditative practice in and of itself, as well as promoting relaxation.

What are the Effects of Cannabis on Your Muscles During Exercise

Some people report that working out on cannabis even changes how their body feels afterward. If cannabis puts one in a relaxed state while exercising, working out under the influence is likely to be less taxing on the body. It is generally excepted that exercising while tense – with tight muscles – leaves one more prone to soreness and injury.

But it’s not just how one feels immediately after exercise that can be affected by cannabis; there are also significant long-term benefits as well. One study found that subjects who had been using cannabis for at least six years had a significantly lower chance of developing obesity

A Useful Tool in Exercise Recovery

stoned woman on weight machine

This all makes sense, and it certainly explains the appeal of using cannabis with exercise, but some studies suggest there might be more to it than these coincidental connections.

Currently, there are few controlled studies on cannabis and exercise. This is partly due to the federal restrictions on cannabis research. Some scientists, though say that in theory endocannabinoids could have a role in the effects of exercising euphoria.

A 2003 study found that participants had elevated levels of the endocannabinoid molecule anandamide in their blood after they exercised. Cannabis targets these same receptors, so it could follow that THC allows one to reach a “runner’s high” much easier than if he or she exercised without cannabis.

And if marijuana is used to help with muscle recovery, working out high can make that process more effective because it allows for a deeper release of endorphins post-workout and makes the body feel better overall.

How to Take Cannabis Before a Workout

woman smoking joint before exercising

Not all cannabis products are ideal for use before a workout, as some produce more of a “high” than others. Some users report that edibles are the best option for a stoned workout because they take longer to kick in and have less distracting effects on coordination.

For others, edibles just aren’t practical when you’re trying to squeeze a trip to the gym in early in the morning or between leaving the office and dinner.

For those who prefer smoking or vaping cannabis pre-workout, there is some debate about whether it’s better to use indica strains or sativa.

Indicas are generally associated with relaxation and decreased anxiety, which could be helpful before exercise, but they also produce a heavy body sensation that some find distracting during workouts. Sativas are more energizing, so it’s possible they might create an uncomfortable heart-pounding effect for certain individuals.

Ultimately, there’s not a right or wrong answer here; it’s about what works best for you and your personal needs.

Tips on How to Exercise While You’re High

Here are some tips on how to combine weed and working out:

  • Avoid large doses of THC, as they can make the high distracting rather than relaxing before working out or being in a meditative state while exercising.
  • Ease into it. If it’s your first time using cannabis with exercise, try a moderate dose and then work your way up. You really don’t know how your body will react until you try it.
  • Avoid any other substances before working out – this includes alcohol or caffeine. This can help to make sure you are in the proper state of mind while exercising as well as provide needed recovery support post-workout.
  • Make sure you are in a safe environment. For your first time, you may want to avoid working out at the gym. See how it goes at home or with a quick run around the neighborhood. Likewise, don’t go for a run deep into the woods. Exercise where help will be available should you need it.
  • Consider using CBD as a way to help manage pain post-workout and reduce inflammation, soreness, and muscle cramps (more on this below).
  • And don’t forget the water! Marijuana can have dehydrating effects because of its diuretic properties so make sure you hydrate before, during, and after your workout.

What does Marijuana Do for Your Body Post-Workout

If cannabis use while working out seems like it might be a little too much for you, or perhaps too dangerous for your preferred method of working out, there are other ways to harness the effects of marijuana for working out. CBD, one of many non-psychoactive compounds in cannabis that have therapeutic qualities, has been shown to aid with pain relief post-workout and muscle recovery.

CBD for Muscle Recovery

cbd balm in tins

Marijuana and CBD can contribute to a positive experience with exercise, both leading into it and through recovery. CBD, as an anti-inflammatory, can alleviate the soreness and muscle aches caused by fitness routines. This allows people’s bodies to recover more quickly from intense workouts and with less pain throughout the body.

CBD products can be taken as an oral tincture or a topical application – like lotion or cream – before and after exercising. Some of the benefits of CBD for muscle recovery include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation and pain post-workout.
  • Reducing the build-up of lactic acid in muscles, which reduces soreness after exercise.
  • CBD also has some antibacterial effects on the skin as well. So if you’re interested in harnessing the benefits of CBD for your post-workout recovery, it can also help to reduce skin infections that could flare up from wiping sweat on a dirty towel.

Athletic Supplements for Cannabis Users

A burgeoning new field in the world of marijuana and athletics is that of marijuana-based athletic supplements. Most of the supplements are made from a mix of CBD and other cannabis-derived compounds. These supplements are used to either provide the athlete with an extra edge or as a way for them to medicate without getting high, depending on their needs.

Because this is a relatively new field, not many studies have been done on these products or their usage. One study, in particular, showed that the benefits of CBD for brain injury and recovery seemed to help reduce inflammation after exercise as well as stiffness due to injuries.

Another common use of marijuana-based supplements is a pre-workout booster. These are used by athletes to help them get in the right mindset and boost their energy before they work out.

The Last Toke: Smoking Weed and Getting Swole

Marijuana and exercise may be a match made in heaven. While it’s not recommended for everyone, those who do use cannabis as part of their routine are reaping the benefits by using CBD lotions or tinctures before or after they work out to reduce inflammation, soreness, and muscle cramps. Marijuana can also help with pain relief post-workout which is especially important because CBD has been shown to aid with pain relief post-gym and muscle recovery. If you want some more energy before your working out but don’t want to get high while working out then CBD supplements might just be what you’re looking for. Stop by Frost Denver Dispensary to see our wide selection.

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