Scientific Research Demonstrates that Marijuana Enhances Pleasure in Exercising, But Fails to Enhance Performance

Scientific Research Demonstrates that Marijuana Enhances Pleasure in Exercising, But Fails to Enhance PerformanceA recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder has shed light on the impact of legal, commercial cannabis on exercise. The study, published in the Sports Medicine journal, aimed to explore how cannabis use affects physical activity and overall workout experience.

Over the past decade, cannabis has become legalized in many states, including Colorado. Consequently, it is no surprise that cannabis consumption is also being normalized within the fitness community. However, its use in sports remains a contentious topic, with notable athletes such as Sha’Carri Richardson facing consequences for cannabis consumption.

The research involved 42 runners who provided information about their cannabis use and how it influenced their exercise routine. The findings revealed that consuming cannabis before working out increased positive mood and enjoyment during exercise, regardless of whether THC or CBD products were used. However, THC products specifically made the exercise feel more effortful.

These findings confirm what many already know: consuming cannabis does not automatically result in a “couch-lock” effect. In fact, considering the epidemic of sedentary lifestyles, researchers are interested in exploring new tools to encourage physical activity. If cannabis can serve as one of these tools, its benefits and potential harms need to be carefully examined.

A previous study conducted by the same researchers found that 80% of cannabis users surveyed reported using cannabis before or after exercising. To further investigate this phenomenon, participants were asked about their consumption habits and then given either CBD or THC-rich cannabis to consume. They were then asked to rate their enjoyment during a 30-minute run on a treadmill under the influence of cannabis and without it.

Unsurprisingly, the results showed that cannabis enhanced the enjoyment of running. Interestingly, participants who consumed CBD reported even greater enjoyment than those who consumed THC, suggesting that lower pain levels during exercise contributed to this effect. THC users reported that the run felt more difficult but also more enjoyable and intense compared to when they were sober. This aligns with how cannabis can enhance overall experiences, potentially due to an increase in heart rate caused by cannabis consumption.

Another study conducted by the researchers revealed that runners ran 31 seconds slower when under the influence of cannabis, despite reporting higher enjoyment levels. These findings confirm that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug.

Furthermore, the study showed that only certain individuals experience the phenomenon known as the “runner’s high.” Endogenous cannabinoids, naturally produced brain chemicals, contribute to this euphoric and alert state that some individuals experience after exercise. For some people, combining cannabis and exercise can create a pleasant experience, while others may feel overly tired.

While there is no doubt that cannabis can enhance a workout for some individuals, caution must be exercised when combining substance use and exercise. Cannabis use can cause dizziness and loss of balance for some people, making it potentially dangerous during physical activity. Serious athletes or individuals participating in competitions may want to avoid cannabis entirely or only use it for recovery purposes.

However, for those seeking to enhance occasional workouts or find motivation and enjoyment in physical activity, consuming cannabis could be beneficial. This discovery has the potential to be a game-changer for individuals struggling with exercise motivation or finding it painful.

In conclusion, while cannabis may not boost performance during workouts, it can make them more enjoyable. It is still too early to make broad recommendations about using cannabis before exercise, but further exploration is warranted. So next time you need an extra push to get moving, consider incorporating healthy cannabis consumption into your routine. Just remember that you won’t break any records in terms of speed while under its influence.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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