Dr. David Pompei, PharmD, MS
Exercise is one of the most important ways people maintain and improve their well-being. Physical activity gets your blood pumping, changes your neurochemistry, promotes health and extends your lifespan.
Exercise has such a powerful psychological effect that “exercise may be considered as a psychoactive drug.” Given how important exercise is to health and well-being, is it one of the factors you can control to improve your cannabis experience? Jointly thinks it is.
We will soon present our data about how exercise impacts your cannabis experience, but for now let’s explore what is known about exercise, cannabis and CBD.
Everyone knows exercise is good for you, but why is it so beneficial?
Research has shown that regular physical activity reduces blood pressure, improves metabolic health, reduces systemic inflammation, improves blood flow to the heart, and can trigger beneficial epigenetic changes in “adipose [tissue], skeletal muscle and blood cells.”
Additionally, exercise exerts a wide range of psychological and cognitive benefits, improving learning and memory, boosting cognitive performance in older adults and delaying age-related cognitive decline, decreasing anxiety and depression, and in some contexts, increasing “measures of well-being, self-esteem and self-efficacy.”
When the dosage is right, exercise triggers a complex cascade of beneficial health effects. Of course, too much exercise can be a significant stress on the body and the mind, so it is important to exercise in a dose that is right for you, and to create the conditions that will allow for timely recovery.
Although exercise is known to improve psychological wellbeing and cognitive function, the mechanisms by which exercise produces these effects is not yet known.
However, there is emerging evidence that the positive psychological benefits of exercise may be related to the endocannabinoid system.
Traditionally, the “runner’s high” has been attributed to endorphins, endogenous peptides that activate the body’s opioid receptors. However, there is emerging research that the endocannabinoid system may play an important role in the “analgesia, sedation, anxiolysis and a sense of wellbeing” produced by exercise.
Specifically, researchers have found that “people who take opioid-blocking drugs before exercising can still achieve states of bliss during a workout,” and that exercise increases serum concentrations of endocannabinoids.
Most studies that explored how cannabis affects exercise have looked at physical work capacity and motor coordination, and found generally negative effects from acute cannabis intoxication.
However, many athletes use cannabis to help them get into a “flow” state during training periods. At present, there is not enough scientifically rigorous data to make any firm conclusions about how cannabis affects exercise performance, but we encourage you to experiment and find out what works for you.
Many individuals purposefully consume cannabis before or during their favorite physical activities because they feel it improves their performance or enhances their enjoyment.
Endurance runners use cannabis and CBD prior to long runs to improve focus and reduce soreness and fatigue so they can continue training at a high level from race to race. Skiers and weight lifters toke up before training because they have more fun after consuming cannabis. And hikers nibble at edibles mid-hike because cannabis enhances the feeling of the sun and wind on their skin.
Exercise could potentially change the pharmacokinetics of THC. There is no research into how exercise alters the pharmacokinetics of THC or other cannabinoids, however there is evidence that exercise “appears to enhance absorption from…transdermal and inhalation sites,” although it appears to have no effect on orally given drugs.
That means if you use a topical or take a puff from a vape pen prior to exercising, perhaps you will absorb more cannabinoids than if you didn’t exercise. More research is needed to figure out how exercise impacts your cannabis experience.
We know that the majority of people who consume cannabis after exercising do so with the goal of recovery. For an in-depth review of how cannabis and CBD can help you recover, head over to Cannabis, CBD and Physical Recovery.
As for whether you should use cannabis prior or during exercise, only you and your doctor can answer that.
Both exercise and cannabis trigger a complex cascade of events in the body, so how exercise impacts a cannabis user’s experience probably varies based on the type of exercise, the frequency of cannabis use, the type of product used, as well as personal preference. But you can use Jointly to find out how exercise impacts your cannabis experience.
Jointly is the cannabis discovery app that makes it easy to find and shop the best cannabis and CBD products for your goals. Your matches are calculated from the real product ratings and experiences from hundreds of thousands of people using the Jointly app.
With Jointly, you can shop your top-rated products, and save lists of your favorites to share and bring to your local dispensary to help guide your shopping experience.
The Jointly app also helps you improve your cannabis experiences by uncovering what’s working and what’s not with reflections and personalized insights. In fact, the quality of your diet, how much you slept, who you’re with, and the time of day are just some of the factors that can impact your cannabis experience.
So if you're ready to find your best products and enjoy your perfect cannabis experience, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website. Discovery awaits.