Using cannabis as a workout enhancer isn’t as niche of an idea as it once was. While many assume the former impedes the later, a very recent study on everyday citizens suggests otherwise.
To find out more about the relationships between cannabis use and exercise behaviours, University of Colorado’s Angela Bryan, Ph.D., about 81.7 percent of 605 survey respondents, in states where cannabis is legal, reported using marijuana directly before or after exercise, with the majority of respondents saying that cannabis makes exercise more enjoyable. Co-users, or who engage in consumption “immediately before or after a workout,” tended to skew younger and male.
“Even after controlling for these differences, co-users reported engaging in more minutes of aerobic and anaerobic exercise per week,” the study found. The co-users also tend to go a little harder during workouts, reporting 30.2 more minutes of anaerobic exercise, the kind that is so intense that it leads lactic acid to accumulate in the muscles (causing pain the next day). They also exercised an average of 159.7 minutes per week, which is substantially more than the 103.5 minutes per week typical of those who didn’t co-use.
“In addition, the majority of participants who endorsed using cannabis shortly before/after exercise reported that doing so enhances their enjoyment of and recovery from exercise, and approximately half reported that it increases their motivation to exercise,” the study reads. The paper suggests that cannabis may be a “useful tool for exercise among some users.”
Amid evidence that marijuana will do little or nothing to improve athletic performance, the results of the University of Colorado survey study suggest that people don’t consume cannabis because they think it makes them better athletes, instead, they believe it makes the experience more enjoyable and the promise of a speedier recovery is a significant factor. Bryan came to this conclusion by having participants rate a series of statements regarding cannabis and exercise on a scale of one to seven, where seven is “strongly agree.” Asked if they felt that marijuana enhanced their enjoyment and recovery, participants gave average ratings of 5.3 and 5.7, respectively, indicating that they generally agreed that it enhanced each experience. On the other hand, when asked whether they felt marijuana impacted motivation or performance, their feelings were neutral.
This data helps to fill a significant gap in our understanding of cannabis and physical activity namely, why humans of varying levels of physical ability might turn to weed when they’re gearing up for a workout. The study’s authors believe that it is the first study to survey attitudes and behaviour regarding the use of cannabis in conjunction with exercise and to examine differences between cannabis users who engage in co-use, compared to those who do not.
Breaking the Stigma of Using Cannabis With Exercise
Cannabis use, in the context of health behaviours such as exercise engagement, is becoming increasingly relevant as cannabis legalization continues, a situation that has been associated with increased initiation of use among adults, and increased potency of available products.
There is also more acceptance by way of teams and events that cater to the cannabis consumer who enjoys physical activity. In Canada, ganja yoga, cannabis running clubs, and cannabis-tolerant sports teams are already a “thing.”
The convergence of all of several factors—legalization, normalization, and scientific curiosity among them—is giving everyday citizens a better base on which to build their own fitness rituals and routines involving cannabis. For one person, this could mean using one form of cannabis to reduce symptoms of pain after an activity; for another, it could simply be used to make endurance training more enjoyable. Cannabis is such an individually-specific medicine.
For the everyday athlete who does not have to submit to drug tests, Dr. Ira Price recommends what he calls “mindful consumption,” which he says bridges the medical use of cannabis and its integration into one’s lifestyle. Cannabis has been used to dampen pain and concussion symptoms, improve sleep, spark appetite and reduce anxiety but how you use it in conjunction with fitness will be entirely personal.
Using the Strainprint app can help you on this journey of fitness discovery if you keep track of which product, cannabinoid levels, ingestion methods and doses you try out before and after each session, you can narrow down the options to create a system that works best for you. Have you tried using the Strainprint app together with physical activity or sports? We’d love to know.