Media often portrays cannabis consumers as being lazy and junk-food craving individuals. It’s about time that the narrative on marijuana begins to shift away from stereotypes and toward the facts. Regardless, even those who are educated on the benefits of cannabis may be surprised to find that it has something to offer everyone, from the average Joe looking to get fit to professional athletes. Here are some reasons that smoking weed and working out is just as realistic a combo as those other, more popular stereotypes.
If you dread working out because of the pain that inevitably ensues on a long run or during a heavy lifting session, you may want to try toking beforehand. Marijuana appears to manage pain by distracting you from it.
A study conducted by the journal Pain found that though weed doesn’t appear to actually kill pain, it makes it more bearable. Cancer and AIDS patients have used marijuana as an alternative to opioids to treat chronic pain and this has been one of the leading arguments for its legalization. Federal hurdles still remain, however, making further research on cannabis incredibly difficult to conduct.
Some people may have the motivation to go to the gym but end up not going because of the anxiety of lifting weights or running in a room full of sweaty and athletic people. Studies have shown that cannabis strains that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) have powerful anxiety-reducing effects. CBD works by counteracting the adverse effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in cannabis.
The sounds of other people’s thoughts could be drowned out by a wave of newfound confidence and you may find yourself getting into an athletic groove more quickly.
This is one area where smoking weed and working out can actually have pretty similar effects on your brain. If you’ve ever gone for a long run, then you know how good it feels once you’re finished. The feeling of accomplishment that persists is what keeps runners coming back for more. Many people who are avid long distance runners claim that they become depressed or feel like their day is missing something if they miss a workout. A 2003 study found that exercise activates that endocannabinoid system—the system found mostly in the brain that allows cannabis to work—the same way cannabis does.
A study performed by Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that regular cannabis users who exercise may experience elevated blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores. As mentioned earlier, cannabis high and runners high both activate the endocannabinoid system in similar ways, so this elevated blood THC level may result in a synthesized runners high.
Personal Stories vs. Scientific Evidence
Many pro athletes use cannabis because they claim that it helps quell pregame jitters and increases their focus during games. I personally know of a friend who tried smoking before he had a basketball performance and claimed that he performed at his highest level ever, even garnering praise from the coach. As mentioned earlier, legal hurdles make it difficult for these stories to be backed up scientifically.
It is up to you to decide how credible you believe the firsthand accounts and limited scientific studies are. As with most things regarding pot, reaching a scientific consensus will require more studies on the combination of smoking weed and working out. That being said, we can only work with what we have and marijuana’s effects on exercise appear to be positive.