Why Exercise and Cannabis Are A Great Combination
Exercise is one of the most important ways people maintain and improve their wellbeing. 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 wellbeing, 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!
What Does Exercise Do To You?
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 coronary blood flow and endothelial function, 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 timely recovery.
Why Does Exercise Feel Good?
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.
Will Cannabis Improve Exercise Performance?
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.
Cannabis and Motivation to Exercise
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.
Angela Bryan, a social psychologist at the University of Colorado, conducted a survey of more than 600 cannabis users and found that “four out of five respondents said they used cannabis right before or after exercising.”
These survey results fascinated Dr. Bryan: “the question she’d most like to answer is probably the most difficult one: does cannabis directly influence people’s decisions to exercise?” 
Due to federal prohibition on cannabis, there is not much research into how cannabis impacts the motivation to exercise or the relationship between cannabis and exercise generally.
However, research has revealed that endocannabinoids “appear to modulate highly interactive stress and reward networks, consisting of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), dopamine system, and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.” 
Both exercise and cannabis intoxication produce a “sought-after state of calmness or contentedness, mediated by interactive anxiolytic effects of increased cannabinoid and oxytocin receptor activation and rewarding effects of elevated dopamine.”
The relationship between the endocannabinoid system and exercise led Gillman et al. in their 2015 review of Cannabis and Exercise Science to state “it is possible that some forms of exogenous cannabinoids may have beneficial effects on exercise motivation.”
So it seems cannabis could impact your exercise experience or your motivation to exercise, but does exercise also impact your cannabis experience?
Does Exercise Impact Your Cannabis Experience?
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 substantial 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 elucidate how exercise impacts cannabinoid pharmacokinetics.
Should You Use Cannabis Before, During or After Exercising?
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, a new cannabis wellness app, to help find out how exercise impacts your cannabis experience!
Jointly Exercise Report: Coming Soon…
Soon we will publish our proprietary data on how exercise affects Jointly users’ cannabis experience, and look at any trends that exist in our data: is it better to exercise before consuming marijuana for some wellness goals? If you want to consume a cannabis product to relax before your yoga class, is it better to smoke flower or consume a tincture? Is it better to consume edibles or tinctures before exercising if your goal is to focus? And does the type of exercise (yoga, running, walking, etc.) change your cannabis experience?
Getting Answers with Jointly
Curious about tracking and optimizing how you use cannabis and CBD?
Jointly is a new smartphone app that allows you to track and record your CBD and cannabis consumption, including the dose, time of use, composition of the cannabis product and various other factors that can influence your experience. As you track your cannabis consumption on Jointly, you will learn about the factors that can impact your cannabis experience and how to eliminate side effects like anxiety.
As you use the app, Jointly will build a personalized recommendation engine that suggests actionable advice like new routines and better products.
Download the Jointly app today and start accomplishing your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD!
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Gillman, Arielle S et al. “Cannabis and Exercise Science: A Commentary on Existing Studies and Suggestions for Future Directions.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 45,10 (2015): 1357-63. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0362-3
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