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Exercise And Weed: A Great Combo For Mindful Athletes

The Fresh Toast

By The Fresh Toast's Trey Reckling, provided exclusively to Benzinga Cannabis.

For some pro athletes, marijuana is a better choice for the pain, inflammation and other conditions that they typically deal with.

Years ago, I was in a judo class and had a classmate who was fierce. He was a short, humble guy built like a fridge and would take down people with scary precision. Flip, smack. It was a thing of beauty. One day outside of class I asked him how he got so focused. He paused for a second and smiled, “Weed!”

I thought he was joking. He was not. He was just way ahead of me when it came to marijuana and exercise.

It was not until the 1990s that scientists discovered that humans and all vertebrate animals have a naturally occurring system of receptors built to receive the active compounds in cannabis as well as similar compounds our bodies produce naturally. That is why we get “high” and why medical marijuana is effective for so many conditions. 

Professional athletes from all corners of the sports world have come out in favor of allowing players to use marijuana. For some, it is a better choice for the pain, inflammation and other conditions that athletes typically deal with.

Cannabis Users Exercise Much More Than You Think

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It’s not just intoxication-seeking marijuana consumers heralding the potential for the drug when it comes to exercise. For those looking for benefit without the high, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychotropic option.

Yale research scientist, professor and engineering director, Alyssa L. Siefert, has written extensively on the subject and shared her enthusiasm with us: 

The broad anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis, particularly CBD, are exciting for athletes looking to quickly relax and recover, and I hope that researchers are able to focus on beneficial strains and dosages.

Let’s look at some of what we know from research that should be of interest to exercise enthusiasts looking to include marijuana in their workout regimen:

  • Acts as a bronchodilator, allowing air passages in the lungs to open more for up to two hours.  
  • Helps blood flow.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Makes pain more bearable and is safer than aspirin and Tylenol. 
  • Helps with sleeplessness.
  • Improves recovery from traumatic brain injury.
  • Helps users stay leaner with trimmer waistlines.

Before we pump you up with all of the good news, a word of caution for the uninitiated: Cannabis use can lead to tachycardia, or increased heart rate. This is a notable concern for cardio enthusiasts, people with heart health issues or for those who already exercise at a very elevated heart rate. Cannabis can also slow reaction times, so experimenting while participating in a contact sport is not recommended.

Protect yourself. While some competitive sports do not screen for marijuana use, it is certainly forbidden by the NCAA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Also keep in mind that smoking weed is just one way to ingest. In legal states, there are a variety of edibles, melt-away strips, tinctures, you name it. As noted before, CBD may give you some of the benefits of cannabis, but it will never make you stoned.

Maybe you want to simply do some research of your own. If so, we recommend you try it out at home first, where you can control your environment and feel most safe. Consume a moderate amount of cannabis, do some exercise and take notes on your dose, activation time and experience. That way you can find your sweet spot before you take to the gym in your newly lifted state.

Featured image by Unsplash

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