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January 11, 2022

Cannabis and exercise - it’s a growing trend. From increasing THC in the bloodstream, to simply making exercise more enjoyable, read why cannabis could be the perfect running buddy.

Let’s start 2022 off on the right foot — complete with new running shoes and a freshly rolled joint. 

Of the Americans that make New Year's resolutions, about 50% resolve to exercise more. Question is, if you’re someone whose idea of decompressing includes lighting up a pre-rolled joint, taking a pull off your vape, or stopping by your favorite Massachusetts dispensary to see what’s new in store, you might be wondering how to pair cannabis and exercise. Read on to learn more about how a runner's high isn’t the only high you can chase when you’re working out.

Does cannabis inhibit or enhance athletic performance? 

The answer is no, and yes, and also — we’re not quite sure yet. 

For a long time, cannabis prohibition and the stigma attached to cannabis limited the extent of studies that researched the effect cannabis has on athletic performance. But times are changing. A first-of-its-kind study at Colorado University Boulder, called The SPACE study (Study on Physical Activity and Cannabis Effects), is diving into the world of workouts and weed to finally find out how weed affects athletic performance and recovery.

In the meantime, anecdotes from folks who do everything from run, walk, bench, cycle, dance, and even snowboard under the plant’s influence suggest that cannabis can aid in recovery, contribute to more pleasurable workouts, and even increase motivation to exercise.

On the flip side, when sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100 meters at this year’s Olympic Track and Field Trials — and was later suspended from the sport because she tested positive for Carboxy-THC, the main ingredient in cannabis, deeming her ineligible to race at the Olympics — we saw the conversation around cannabis and athletic performance spark. Her suspension begged the question: is cannabis performance-enhancing?

If you consult the US National Library of Medicine, cannabis is “not a performance-enhancing drug” in the vein of anabolic steroids.

Studies have shown, however, that cannabis, specifically cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can be utilized as a far less harmful pain reliever and anti-inflammatory solution when compared to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. THC stimulates the brain's cannabinoid receptors, which activate the brain's reward system and reduce pain levels, while CBD is credited for alleviating pain, inflammation, anxiety, and many other medical ailments.

And that “runner’s high” you’ve heard so much about? A 2013 study suggests that it’s enhanced when you consume cannabis and exercise. The way this new and improved runner’s high works is this: After you partake, THC gets stored in fat. Exercise burns fat. As it burns, THC is released back into the bloodstream, resulting in an actual high. The best of both worlds.

So, while cannabis isn’t going to give you an athletic edge, if you’re looking to increase your motivation and enjoy your workout more, pairing cannabis with your exercise routine could be a great place to start. 

Who uses cannabis and exercises?

Despite the association of cannabis with couch-lock and laziness, athletic champions and active individuals alike are coming out of the shadows and speaking their truths about cannabis use — and smashing the stigma.

In fact, according to CU professor Angela Bryan, more than 80% of the hundreds of cannabis consumers who were surveyed across five states shared that they “used cannabis close to the time they exercised, whether before or shortly later on.” Out of the group surveyed, the majority agreed that pairing cannabis and working out increased enjoyment of exercise, boosted recovery, and heightened motivation.

A potentially huge sector of our population that could benefit from lighting up and getting active are older adults. If cannabis eases pain and inflammation, pairing cannabis and exercise could help older adults become more active.

The best cannabis consumption methods for exercise

Perhaps the most popular form of cannabis consumption before a workout is ingestion. Edibles and tinctures, in general, give a great body high. They also have a slow onset, meaning you can time it so your high kicks in during that last stretch of cardio (when you might need the motivation the most). Another advantage of this consumption method for exercise is that edibles and tinctures are easier on the lungs than smoking could be. Plus, they’re discreet! Our advice with edibles is always: start low and go slow. 

Pick up our Elemente 1:1 THC/CBD Tincture for a relatively quick onset, or try cannabis-infused gummies. Our IHP Fruit Chews offer an array of flavors, like strawberry limeade and mango guava, all packed into a 5mg fruit chew.

If you’re looking for more immediate effects, try vaping before or after your workout. Still easier on your lungs than smoking, you can quickly gauge your dose. We have a variety of strains in our VSPR cartridges, like Indica Hybrid Banana Kush or Sativa Hybrid Blue Dream. Plus, we release special edition VSPR strains throughout the year, available only for a limited time. 

When it comes down to it, your consumption method is up to you! Choose what works best and what you’re most comfortable with. You may even consider microdosing cannabis if you’re worried about how the psychoactive qualities may affect your workout.

Visit one of our three Massachusetts dispensaries, in Framingham, Hudson and Pittsfield, if you’re curious about which cannabis products to pair with your workouts or exercise routine.


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