Consuming cannabis before exercise results in increased motivation and enjoyment of exercise, reduced pain and generally perceived exercise as more pleasant. Can performance also be increased in this way?
A recent study by experts at the University of Colorado Boulder examined the acute effects of cannabis on the subjective perception of physical activity and performance. The results are published in the specialist journal “Sports Medicine”.
Lack of exercise leads to illness
For many people, exercise is neglected and they spend most of the day sitting. Weight problems, overweight, obesity and various other health problems are possible consequences.
Given the stereotype that cannabis causes drowsiness and is associated with a behavior in which sufferers spend a lot of time engaging in sedentary activities, there have been concerns among experts that the legalization of cannabis could further increase physical inactivity.
Don’t feel like exercising thanks to cannabis?
In order to investigate the effects of consuming cannabis during exercise, the researchers recruited 42 participants between the ages of 21 and 39 who regularly consumed cannabis for their new study. First, fitness measurements were carried out and various other data were collected.
The participants were then instructed to purchase either a specific type of flower that primarily contained cannabidiol (CBD) or a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-dominant variety at a pharmacy, the team reports. THC and CBD are active components of cannabis, with THC being known to provide the intoxicating effect.
30 minute treadmill workout
For further investigations, the participants first ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a moderate pace without the influence of cannabis and answered various questions at regular intervals.
These questions were used to find out how motivated the participants felt, how much fun they had, how strenuous the training felt, how quickly the time seemed to pass and how severe the pain was, the experts explain.
This test was then repeated at a new appointment, whereby the participants had previously consumed cannabis at home.
What effects did THC and CBD have?
The participants consistently reported greater joy and more intense euphoria or a so-called runner’s high when they exercised after consuming cannabis, the researchers report. This increased joy was even greater in the group of participants who used CBD than in the group of people who consumed THC.
However, the same running intensity while consuming cannabis felt significantly harder for the participants than when they ran sober. According to study author Angela Bryan, this could be because THC increases heart rate.
In a previous study, the research group had also found that people who completed running training while using cannabis experienced more enjoyment, but ran 31 seconds per mile (around 1.6 km) slower.
Cannabis does not have a performance-enhancing effect
According to Bryan, it can therefore be said that cannabis is by no means a performance-enhancing drug, even though in the past many people in elite sports were excluded from competitions due to positive cannabis tests.
For athletes who want to complete a five-kilometer run as quickly as possible or who plan to improve their personal best in a marathon, it doesn’t really make sense to consume cannabis beforehand.
However, so-called ultrarunners, people who simply want to get through an extremely long run, may well benefit from consuming cannabis before a run, Bryan adds in a press release.
Increase motivation to exercise with cannabis
The results are also interesting for people who find it difficult to exercise at all because they lack motivation, suffer from pain or simply don’t feel like exercising.
It could be possible to motivate such people to go for a walk or even jog, for example by taking low-dose sweets with THC or CBD. Before that, however, further research is needed to more precisely define the positive and negative effects of cannabis during sport. (as)