THC and fitness – Can cannabis enhance your workout routine?

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Cannabis and working out may seem like unlikely partners, but recent research suggests that the active compound THC provides certain benefits for some aspects of exercise performance and recovery. Several studies have shown that using cannabis before aerobic exercise modestly enhances enjoyment and perceived exertion. In one study of treadmill running, those who vaporized cannabis rated their enjoyment higher and their level of perceived exertion lower compared to those who were given a placebo, even though both groups performed the exercise at the same intensity.

what is thc? The researchers theorized that THC may distract the mind from feelings of fatigue. At the same time, feelings of euphoria or simply feeling “high” enhance the pleasurable aspects of exercise. Many researchers argue that THC has negligible or even detrimental impacts on overall aerobic exercise performance. While perceived exertion may decrease, most studies show that heart rate, oxygen consumption, and time to exhaustion are not significantly impacted by cannabis use before aerobic activities. Studies indicate THC improves sleep quality in those with insomnia. Good sleep plays a pivotal role in facilitating muscle recovery after intensive bouts of exercise. Cannabis may also modestly reduce inflammation throughout the body – another contributor to workout recovery.

Who may benefit

At this stage, science cannot definitively determine which individuals may benefit from judiciously incorporating cannabis products into their fitness regimens. Far more research across wider populations is still needed. Tentative patterns are emerging that provide some early guidance. Occasional cannabis users without a personal or family history of psychosis or problematic substance use seem least likely to experience adverse effects. They may enjoy some of the highlighted benefits like increased pleasure and decreased pain during and after exercise if dosing wisely. All individuals should use extreme care when mixing THC products with sports or activities carrying inherent physical risks.

The athletic community continues controversially debating whether cannabis should remain a banned substance. Others counter that most theoretical performance gains remain unproven and do not outweigh the risks to health and safety. Interpretations also differ widely between various sports. The debate around cannabis in athletics and fitness will likely continue for years as more research emerges.

Best practices for combining cannabis and fitness

Until further research helps refine guidelines, some best practices may help reduce risks around combining cannabis and exercise.

  • Avoid cannabis use before activities requiring quick reactions, sustained concentration, precision, or balance 
  • Refrain from mixing THC and fitness if you have a personal or family history of heart conditions, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse issues
  • Follow the adage “start low and go slow” with dosing to minimize the risk of over-intoxication 
  • Wait until fully sober before driving or handling hazardous equipment
  • Aim for just 2-5 milligrams of THC to get mild benefits without heavy impairment
  • THC products or CBD-only items to lessen intoxication  
  • Consumes cannabis products primarily for recuperation, sleep, and pain relief outside exercise

Standardized products with precise THC contents will also enable better dosing guidance instead of the guesswork required with traditional cannabis flowers. Just like workout supplements, some cannabis-derived products one day play adjuvant roles in supporting exercise performance, recovery, and enjoyment for some individuals.

 

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