Care for Some Cannabis With Your Cardio?

Understanding the surprising links between exercise and cannabis

It’s early January. Have you broken your New Year’s resolution yet?

Seriously, though: most people resolve to get more exercise, then hit the gym more often in early January, then revert to old habits by February.

But what if one “habit” could lead to another, in a virtuous cycle?

We at Liberty believe in helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically. Though cannabis hasn’t always enjoyed the best reputation when it comes to physical activity, a combination of new research and prominent spokespersons is causing people to take a closer look at the relationship between cannabis and exercise.

Surprising Findings

An interesting study published last spring found a strong correlation between people who used cannabis and people who exercise regularly. Researchers from the University of Colorado looked at more than 600 people in states that have legalized cannabis (California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). Respondents were asked if they used cannabis one hour before or four hours after exercising, or if they avoided cannabis during those times.

Researchers found that a whopping 82% of people who used cannabis also used it while exercising--and those who did so exercised longer, and enjoyed exercise more, than those who didn’t.

The majority of those who used cannabis with exercise said that cannabis improved their enjoyment of and recovery from exercise, and roughly half of them said it helped motivate them as well.

There are three main reasons exercise buffs might incorporate cannabis into their routines: 

Recovery from exercise and injuries. It’s long been established that properties in cannabis can help reduce inflammation, ease the pain after workouts, and possibly speed recovery. Several professional athletes, from ultramarathoners to martial arts experts to former NFL players, have argued that cannabis provides key benefits without the harm of pharmaceutical opiates, which are commonly prescribed to pro athletes battling through injuries but can lead to a host of side effects.

CBD oil, which is derived from cannabis, has become increasingly popular for treating aches and pains. An Australian study published in June looked into the relationship between cannabis and exercise; it found that “CBD used in combination with THC provides greater analgesic and anti-anxiolytic relief than CBD alone.” Research into the subject is still new, but expect to hear more about how different properties of cannabis aid in recovery.

Focus and stamina. A number of marathon runners and endurance athletes have found that cannabis helps with the mental challenges of long events. Pro ultramarathoner Avery Collins told Men’s Journal that he consumes edibles when training, and that doing so makes his runs “more spiritual.”

Fun. Researchers in the Colorado study were initially surprised by the high correlation between cannabis use and exercise. Seeing the data, they posited that some people may find that cannabis simply makes exercise more fun. People who enjoy the experience are more likely to stick with their routine than people who view that upcoming workout with dread.

What It Means

So should we all use cannabis before or after exercise? Not necessarily. The Colorado study isn’t definitive--it was based on self-reported data, which tends to be unreliable. And the researchers stressed that the Western states in which study participants live tend to be among the most physically active in the U.S., so it’s unclear whether the findings will be repeatable across the country. But at the very least, it shows that the stereotype that people who use cannabis are sedentary is outdated and ill-informed.

To stick with your resolutions in 2020, stop by your local Liberty dispensary and ask a Wellness Guide for their recommendations of exercise-supporting products.



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