One thing increased cannabis legalization and acceptance has done? It’s begun to smash the stoner stereotype. These days, it seems everyone uses cannabis products.
Okay, maybe not everyone.
But more than half of Americans have tried it at least once in their lives and, according to some estimates, some 55 million use it on the reg.
Everyone’s aware of the long-standing stereotype that marijuana makes you lazy and unmotivated. A new survey released this week, however, shows otherwise.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that 81.7% of 605 survey participants in states with legal marijuana laws use marijuana right before or after exercise.
The study was one of the first to explore the relationship between physical activity and cannabis use. It was led by Angela Bryan, University of Colorado Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Institute for Cognitive Science.
“There’s a stereotype that cannabis leads people to be lazy and couch-locked and not physically active,” says Bryan, “but these data suggest this is not the case.”
Why are People Exercising High?
If you’re one of the 55 million plus Americans (or 147 million people worldwide) that consumes cannabis, there’s a big possibility you’ve used it before or after exercise.
Personally, we’re huge fans of taking a few hits of our favorite strain before hitting the beach for a run or stepping onto our yoga mat.
When we were snowboarding 100+ days a winter, you can bet we were smoking some of Colorado’s finest before, during, and after hitting the slopes!
Whether you’re a snowboarder, skier, surfer, basketball player, crossfit enthusiast, or endurance athlete, if you consume cannabis, it’s likely you (maybe often) exercise high.
Why are people exercising high, though?
That’s one question this new study has helped answer.
According to Bryan, people don’t smoke weed before engaging in their chosen sport because they think it’s going to make them better at it. Instead, they think it makes the experience more enjoyable.
Survey respondents were from California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. One of the questions they were asked was if they had ever used cannabis within one hour before or four hours after exercise.
Of the 604 respondents, almost 82% said yes.
Bryan says her team was “stunned it was that high” (no pun intended, we’re pretty sure ;)).
Another question asked 345 co-users (those that use marijuana with exercise) were more apt to use it before than after exercising.
Of the co-users, 78% said it helped aid recovery, 70% said it increased enjoyment, and 52% said that it enhanced motivation.
Personally, we’ve experienced all three.
According to authors of the study, “Given that these are all recognizable barriers to exercise, it is possible that cannabis might actually serve as a benefit to exercise engagement.”
In a recent article in Men’s Health, Jim McAlpine, founder of the 420 Games, had the following to say about why so many athletes embrace the use of cannabis: “It activates your brain and gets you in the Zone. I love to smoke before I ski or mountain bike or go surfing. It puts me in a place of higher focus, the Eye of the Tiger type thing. It’s not for everyone, but for some people who are more athletic and coordinated, it works.”
Other athletes speak about the “flow state” they get when smoking pot before a workout.
We couldn’t agree more.
Do Athletes Prefer THC or CBD for Exercise? (Actually, They Like Both)
More people are using cannabis with exercise than many might’ve expected. But are they using THC or CBD?
Remember, while CBD is wildly popular for athletic recovery, it’s been widely available for less than a decade. And people have only been using it seriously for the past few years.
THC, on the other hand, has been used by athletes for years (it’s said that Bruce Lee himself was a hash eater due to the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids).
With increased legalization, however, has come increased acceptance. More and more people are coming out of the cannabis closet. Suddenly it’s not so taboo to talk about how getting high can actually make exercise more enjoyable.
Avery Collins is one endurance athlete who isn’t ashamed to let the world know how much he loves consuming cannabis before running.
He told the New York Times that the first time he went running after using marijuana, he found that it allowed him “to be very present and not to worry as much about overall times and what’s going on with the run.”
Personally, we love to take a couple hits of marijuana before our yoga practice. While we don’t consume cannabis every time we step onto the mat, we find sometimes it really inspires us to engage more fully with each pose in the present moment.
People have been smoking pot and exercising for years.
Combining CBD with exercise, on the other hand, is relatively new. This isn’t to say, though, that it hasn’t become something wildly popular in the health, fitness, and sports scene. CBD and exercise are a hot combination.
Why are so many people combing CBD and exercise?
For one, there are the infamous anti-inflammatory properties CBD is known for.
Many contend that it helps tremendously with post-workout recovery. Others say it helps decrease recovery time after injury. It’s no secret that the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can significantly damage your health.
Many believe that CBD is a safer option to conventional NSAIDs that can cause kidney damage, heart failure, stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, and more when used excessively.
Then there’s the fact that CBD has shown to increase wakefulness. Some say that using CBD pre-workout helps increase focus and concentration. Whether you’re crushing weights in crossfit or tearing it up in the trees on your skis, focus in any form or exercise is fundamental.
There are also those individuals that use CBD to help decrease any pre-game anxiety or jitters.
Ever gotten nervous before a workout? Gotten a little anxious to try out that new trick? Gotten pregame butterflies before a competition?
Research shows that CBD holds significant potential in the treatment of several types of anxiety.
The Endocannabinoid System and Exercise
Seeing that both THC and CBD are used in combination with exercise and both are strongly associate with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), it would make sense that the ECS and exercise are connected as well.
A 2003 study found that exercise activates the endocannabinoid system.
Even if you’re not a runner, you’re probably familiar with the term “runner’s high.”
Research shows that these positive feelings of euphoria, energy, and being completely and totally “in the zone,” are all associated with the endocannabinoid system.
Historically, it was believed that this was due to a release of “feel good” endorphins expressed by the body’s opioid receptors during exercise.
Here’s the thing, though.
In a 2004 study that looked at endocannabinoids and exercise, researchers found that the positive changes in mood associated with exercise actually looked more like the effects that recreational marijuana users reported than the sedating effects of opioids.
They discovered that intense exercise and sports encourage the natural expression of cannabinoids in brain areas associated with pleasure, concentration, and pain relief.
When cannabinoids activate receptors in the ECS, those euphoric, pleasurable, pain-free experiences are experienced that both athletes and cannabis consumers are familiar with.
According to the authors of the study, while “it appears that the runner’s high phenomenon is not a scientific problem because it is built on circumstantial evidence, recent data in our laboratory showed that endurance exercise activates the endocannabinoid system, suggesting a new mechanism underlying exercise induced alterations of mental status.”
Basically, cannabis and exercise were made for each other.
It’s no wonder that more than 80% of people use cannabis when they exercise.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis and Exercise
Authors of the most recent study on cannabis and exercise imply that marijuana could be “a useful tool for exercise among some users.”
Not only does it make the whole act of exercise and sports more enjoyable but can also aid in post-athletic pain relief. And for some people, cannabis can be just the motivation they need to get their game on in the first place.
Could cannabis become what athletes turn towards increase athletic drive and performance in the future? In some respects, they already have.
According to authors of the study, “this will be a fascinating research question as more states move towards legalization.”
Other research currently being performed at Colorado State University Boulder is comparing the activity level of older adults who use cannabis compared with those who don’t. Preliminary findings already show that those who do use cannabis exercise more than those who don’t.
No big surprise there. Especially now that we know using cannabis before exercise doesn’t just make it more enjoyable but can actually increase the desire to get on your exercise in the first place.
Cannabis can also make you exercise more. One more thing the study found was that those who incorporated Mary Jane as an exercise partner exercised 159.7 hours per week on average, compared with those who didn’t combine cannabis and exercise and exercised an average of 103.5 minutes per week.
Do you incorporate cannabis into your exercise routine?
Do you prefer THC or CBD or both? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!