The relationship between marijuana and exercise has long been a hotly debated subject, with extreme opinions on both sides and many myths to untangle from the facts. Does marijuana help or hinder exercise? As the scientific community is finding out, and despite popular misconception, it may actually make exercising better. Here’s how.
Marijuana and Body Weight
According to a 2014 study on “Marijuana and Body Weight”, marijuana users gained less weight over a three-year period than those who didn’t use marijuana. This flies in the face of marijuana’s known effects to stimulate appetite in the short-term, commonly known as the “munchies” and medical marijuana’s frequent use to stimulate appetite in people with cancer, cachexia or HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, the study found that marijuana users had a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-users. The reasons for this discrepancy are as yet unknown, and many possible theories have been posed. But, the fact remains, marijuana use has been clinically associated with lower likelihood of obesity, lower BMI and less weight gain.
Marijuana Aids with Exercise
Another common belief about marijuana use is that it makes a person lazy, lethargic and unmotivated. Based on a recent University of Colorado (UC) Boulder study on cannabis use and exercise, however, there may be a flaw in that belief as well. According to the researchers’ results, they believe marijuana may actually motivate users to engage in physical activity more than they would normally.
In the survey of over 600 marijuana users in legal marijuana states, divided almost evenly between male to female, and with an average respondent age of 37.5, over 80 percent promoted using cannabis immediately before or after exercise.
Respondents also revealed an increase in physical activity among cannabis users over non-users. Accounting for demographic factors that could influence results, people who used marijuana right before or after exercise, called “co-users,” engaged in an average of 30 more minutes per week of anaerobic exercise (such as doing push-ups or lifting weights) and 43 more minutes per week of aerobic exercise (such as running or bicycling.)
Moreover, co-users surpassed by nearly 10 minutes the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) recommended 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise.
As one of the study’s authors and a UC-Boulder professor of psychology and neuroscience, Angela Bryan, PhD, said, “The average cannabis user in our study was exercising a lot more than your average American.”
When asked about their reasons for using cannabis and endorsing cannabis use pre-or post-exercise, the majority of co-users cited an increase in the enjoyment of exercise and an improvement in exercise recovery. Half the group cited that it increased motivation and performance.
Marijuana and the Rewards of Exercise
The active compounds in cannabis, called “cannabinoids,” are intimately connected to the human body’s built-in rewards system. As Josiah Hesse explains in his book “Runner’s High”, by tapping into the body’s own endocannabinoid mechanisms through cannabis use, you can make exercise more fun and rewarding and, thus, make an exercise routine easier to adhere to. Data Hesse cites shows that combining cannabis and exercise can promote a healthier outlook and a more positive attitude toward exercise and fitness.
Marijuana Risks and Safety Concerns
As always with exercise and fitness, there are risks and safety concerns to consider when combining cannabis and exercise. Cannabis has been found to possess the potential to impair reaction time, coordination, motor control, balance and cognition–skills that many, if not all, exercises and forms of exercise require.
Yoga, for example, requires balance and coordination to achieve and maintain the asanas, or yogic postures, without straining or overexerting yourself. If you lose your balance, it requires a fast reaction time to avoid hurting yourself.
Similar concerns come up when running, walking or bicycling, whether in public or on a stationary device. And, if in public, there are also unknown obstacles and hazards, like cars, litter and other people, to contend with, all of which require good coordination and reaction time.
There is also the concern of marijuana’s potential to cause a person to lose focus and concentration. When exercising, this could lead to the same dangers of accident, injury or overexertion.
Fortunately, remaining cognizant of these risks and safety concerns throughout your exercise and fitness experiences is the key to avoiding and preventing them.
How to Get Legal Marijuana to Improve Your Exercise and Fitness
It is now easier than ever to get your medical marijuana card in the Midwest. You can do it right from the comfort and safety of your own home through telemedicine using mmjcard4less.com. Simply:
- Sign up at the site – Providing some basic information, uploading ID and paying a refundable fee
- Schedule and attend your telehealth appointment – With a licensed Ohio medical marijuana doctor
- Submit your application and fee – To the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP)
- Wait for your digital card in your email – Then go to your nearest dispensary and get medical marijuana to support your exercise and fitness program.
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