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5 Things You Should Know About Cannabis & Exercise

Emily Fisher
Emily Fisher - CEO

May 31 2017 - 4 min read

Bas Rutten, Ross Rebagliati, Megan Rapinoe, Lolo Jones, Bill Walton … The list of awesome athletes who or have used medical marijuana for recovery or as an alternative to painkillers goes on. The stereotypical image of a lazy stoner lying around in their underwear, snacking on junk food and watching television seems a bit ridiculous when looking at the numerous world-class sports people who use cannabis and CBD (although even an athlete may do this every so often on their rest and recovery days).

In fact, cannabis users may exercise more than non-users:

“Researchers surveyed about 600 cannabis users aged 21 and up living in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington about their marijuana and exercise habits. And those who used the drug an hour before working out and/or within four hours after breaking a sweat reported getting 43 more minutes of exercise each week than the cannabis users who didn’t.”

Here are 5 reasons why cannabis could be the athlete’s medication of choice in the future, and why even some of the best are using it today…

1. The THC – A Performance Enhancer for Athletes?

Cannabis and exercise

Many might remember the scene in American Beauty, where Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) uses cannabis and hits the weights. There are also various triathletes who use THC-laden snacks to go on long-distance runs, swims and cycles. Why? The psychoactivity of THC helps keep focus and prevents unnecessary distractions. Therefore, it should be no surprise that athletes who prefer to use cannabis before their workouts might prefer high-THC sativas with some THCV in it for its anti-hunger, energetic effects. Lester Burnham likes G-13 Haze!

THC also works on the same cannabinoid receptors that the endocannabinoid anandamide works on. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for “runner’s high” – the blissful, euphoric feeling a person gets after exercise. For athletes who like to use THC to complement their workouts, this “rewarding” of the brain may not only keep the body focussed on exercising, but also fight through the “burn” and carry on going due to any pain being minimized.

2. Why CBD for Atheletes? The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabis

One of the most interesting moments of MMA history was seeing Nate Diaz pulling on a vape pen filled with CBD oil. Nate uses CBD oil to beat pain and inflammation. Many NFL players and other high-contact sporting participants also use CBD in various forms (e.g. topical creams) for the same purpose, and it’s not hard to see why. CBD oil is far less addictive and performance-affecting than the painkillers athletes might be prescribed and, for athletes who need an effective painkiller that doesn’t cloud the mind, it could just well be the answer they’re looking for.

Whilst CBD is available for use for many athletes, unfortunately THC is not, even though it can combine well with CBD for greater analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. This means that many athletes may skip the THC, even though it can help prevent the need for stronger painkillers. Another interesting question that may be going through a drug tester’s head is that, when combining the anti-inflammatory effects with the focussing effects of THC, could cannabis be seen as a performance enhancing drug?


3.The Relaxing Effects of Cannabis, and Does it Reduce Testosterone?

Some would argue that using cannabis can deplete testosterone and therefore prevent the development of muscle mass. The other side argues that using cannabis can help relax the muscles, and therefore improve muscle building due to the fact that the body builds muscle when it is relaxed. On top of this, the testosterone-reducing effects of cannabis can be reversed in a day and having a diet that includes plenty of vitamins and minerals like zinc. For most people who train consistently, the testosterone-depleting side-effects of cannabis can be mitigated by a well-planned, decent diet. Exercise can also increase testosterone levels, so cannabinoids’ testosterone-depleting effects can be minimized.

4. Brain Damage – Could CBD Be an Answer?

Brain damage is a massive problem in the world of professional wrestling, boxing and American football. Unsurprisingly, taking repetitive blows on the head from hundreds of pounds of muscle takes its toll on the brain. CBD, which could be a neuroprotectant, might just well prevent high-contact sportsmen and women from developing long-term, debilitating neurological problems like Alzheimer’s disease.

5. The Different Ingestion Methods

Anyone wanting their lungs to be at full capacity may want to avoid smoking anything. However, times have moved on, and we no longer need to smoke cannabis. Vaporizing with a safe product, tinctures and eating cannabis will not affect lung capacity in any known way, whilst still being legitimate ways of getting vital stress-busting cannabinoids into the body. No longer is the method of ingestion so much of a concern, and those wanting an immediate effect no longer have to smoke cannabis to do so.

Do you use cannabis to help you exercise? If so, please tell us about it and how cannabis helps you, or get in touch to receive your MMJ card online today!

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Written by
Emily Fisher
Emily Fisher - CEO

Emily is an entrepreneur and medical cannabis patient. In 2016 she began working with medical clinics in California and met with hundreds of patients who used cannabis to help them in their daily lives. Fascinated by its effectiveness and versatility as a medicine, she realized more research and education was needed to help patients. In 2019, Emily founded Leafwell, which aims to improve patient access to medical cannabis.

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