Recent research sheds light on the relationship between cannabis consumption, particularly THC and CBD, and the overall exercise experience. A study involving 42 runners suggests that cannabis, while enhancing mood and enjoyment during exercise, presents nuanced effects. Both THC and CBD play distinct roles, with CBD showcasing notable benefits without the performance-hindering aspects associated with THC.
- Cannabis, encompassing THC and CBD, has the potential to elevate mood and enjoyment during exercise, making the activity more pleasurable.
- CBD, in particular, emerges as a promising component, offering substantial benefits in enhancing the exercise experience without the performance drawbacks associated with THC.
- THC can intensify the effort perception during exercise due to an increase in heart rate, emphasizing caution in its use for performance enhancement.
University of Colorado Unveils Insights on Cannabis and Exercise:
In a pioneering study published in the journal Sports Medicine, the University of Colorado investigates the impact of legal cannabis on exercise experiences. The study, involving 42 runners, challenges stereotypes, revealing that pre-exercise cannabis use heightens positive mood and enjoyment, irrespective of THC or CBD choice. Notably, THC products may increase the perceived effort during exercise.
This research, a decade after Colorado’s initiation of legal recreational marijuana sales, prompts a reconsideration of cannabis’s potential role in encouraging physical activity. Angela Bryan, senior author and psychology professor, advocates for exploring cannabis as a tool for combatting sedentary lifestyles. The study underscores the need for a balanced exploration of both benefits and risks associated with integrating cannabis into exercise routines, offering new perspectives on the relationship between cannabis and physical activity.
Cannabis and Exercise – Unraveling the Dynamics:
The findings of the study challenge conventional stereotypes associated with cannabis, particularly the perception of inducing a ‘couch-lock.’ Instead, the research suggests that cannabis, whether THC or CBD, can contribute to a more positive exercise experience. Notably, both cannabinoids have distinct effects on the exercise journey.
THC’s Impact – A Balancing Act:
While THC, known for its intoxicating properties, can enhance positive mood and enjoyment during exercise, it introduces a challenge. Participants in the THC group reported that the same intensity of running felt significantly more challenging compared to the sober run. This increase in perceived effort is attributed to THC’s ability to elevate heart rate.
It’s crucial to highlight that, contrary to some expectations, THC did not emerge as a performance-enhancing drug. The study suggests that, despite the heightened enjoyment, runners using THC ran at a slightly slower pace.
CBD’s Promise – Enhancing Enjoyment Without Impairment:
In a surprising turn, CBD demonstrated significant benefits in enhancing the exercise experience. Participants using CBD reported greater enjoyment and intense euphoria, commonly known as the ‘runner’s high,’ surpassing even the THC group. Importantly, the CBD group experienced these benefits without the impairment associated with THC.
The study delves into the role of endogenous cannabinoids, naturally produced by the brain, in contributing to the ‘runner’s high.’ CBD and THC, by binding to the same receptors as these endogenous cannabinoids, seem to facilitate a heightened exercise experience.
Navigating the Landscape – Caution and Consideration:
The study emphasizes that while cannabis, particularly CBD, may offer a valuable tool for enhancing exercise enjoyment, caution is warranted. Cannabis use before exercise is not a one-size-fits-all solution and carries potential risks, including dizziness and loss of balance. Athletes pursuing performance goals, such as achieving a fast 5k or marathon PR, might find cannabis use counterproductive.
However, the study raises intriguing possibilities for individuals struggling to engage in physical activity. For those who find it challenging to exercise due to lack of motivation or discomfort, the prospect of incorporating a low-dose cannabis product before a walk, for example, warrants exploration.
Participant’s Insights on Connection Between Cannabis and Exercise:
When inquired about the intertwining of cannabis and workouts, participants in a recent study provided compelling reasons:
- 90.5% highlighted an increase in enjoyment.
- 69% reported a decrease in pain.
- 59.5% emphasized an enhancement in focus.
- 57.1% pointed to heightened motivation.
- 45.2% mentioned a perception of time passing faster.
- 28.6% believed it improved performance.
Conclusion – Opening Doors to Exploration:
In a world grappling with sedentary lifestyles, exploring innovative tools to encourage physical activity is crucial. The intersection of cannabis and exercise, as highlighted by this study, introduces new dimensions to this exploration. While it’s too early to make broad recommendations, the potential benefits for certain individuals, particularly those with difficulties in exercising, present a compelling area for future research.
As the cannabis and exercise landscape continues to unfold, researchers urge a balanced consideration of both harms and benefits. The hope is to foster a comprehensive understanding of how cannabis can be integrated responsibly into the realm of physical activity, providing potential solutions for a more active and healthier society.
Insights into Source Details:
Original Study (Closed access):
Title: “Acute Effects of Ad Libitum Use of Commercially Available Cannabis Products on the Subjective Experience of Aerobic Exercise: A Crossover Study” by Laurel Gibson et al. Sports Medicine
Objective: To examine the acute effects of legal-market cannabis on regular users’ subjective responses to exercise.
Background: Despite concerns about cannabis contributing to sedentary behavior, recent public interest explores its concurrent use with exercise.
Methods: The study compared exercise experiences with and without cannabis use among 42 participants, regular cannabis users aged 21 to 39.
Results: Participants reported increased positive affect, enjoyment, and “runner’s high” symptoms with cannabis use. However, exertion levels were also higher. Cannabinoid content influenced these effects, with cannabidiol showing a larger difference in enjoyment and a smaller difference in exertion compared to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.