At first glance, pot and exercise don’t seem to go together, but it turns out that these two make a powerhouse combination!  Did you know that weed can help sharpen your focus, increase your metabolism, and improve your athletic performance? Sound unbelievable? Turns out many athletes are total pot heads! Take Michael Phelps, for instance. The guy has won a total of TWENTY EIGHT Olympic medals and guess what? You guessed it… stoner! NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been an open pot smoker for decades. He has a prescription that treats the nausea-inducing migraine headaches which have plagued him for years. While I’m not saying that weed can propel you to Olympic athlete status or make you an NBA level basketball player, I am saying that we are beginning to see many benefits from adding a little ganja to your next workout.

Turns out many athletes are total pot heads! Take Michael Phelps, for instance. The guy has won a total of TWENTY EIGHT Olympic medals and cannabis and exerciseguess what? You guessed it… stoner! NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been an open pot smoker for decades. He has a prescription that treats the nausea-inducing migraine headaches which have plagued him for years. While I’m not saying that weed can propel you to Olympic athlete status or make you an NBA level basketball player, I am saying that we are beginning to see many benefits from adding a little ganja to your next workout.

The 5 ways Weed Enhances Exercise

Weed activates the same areas of the body as exercise

Double your pleasure. Double your fun. So, it turns out that weed has a similar effect on your body as a wicked workout. According to Wellspring Collective of Denver, CO, “As a group of lipids, fats, and cell receptors that THC bind to when smoking weed, the endocannabinoid system plays a prominent role in the neurological system for maintaining homeostasis for overall human health. In short, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for easing our pain, controlling our appetite, relieving our stress, influencing our mood, and even regulating our memory.” These are all effects that exercise has on our body as well because exercise causes our bodies to release our very own endocannabinoids!

Increase your metabolism and encourage a healthy weight

According to a study recently published in Men’s Journal, the THCV and CBD in cannabis increase the metabolism and lower cholesterol. However, it’s important to realize that very few strains on the market have significant levels of THCV, so if your goal is to increase your metabolism, do your research and seek out specific strains with higher THCV levels like Durban Poison. The American Journal of Medicine also found that marijuana users have 16% higher levels of fasting insulin, 17% lower insulin resistance levels, and a significantly smaller average waist circumferences than those who abstain.

Weed helps your muscles recover.

We’ve all been there. 24 hours after a major workout and it feels as though your body has been hit by a Mac truck! Know what helps with that? You guessed it! Weed! Gordy Megroz, a correspondent with Outside Magazine, reports that his muscles recover more quickly when he exercises while stoned and he’s not the only one! Marijuana acts as a vasodilator, widening your arteries to improve blood flow and deliver nutrients to your muscles, possibly reducing soreness. Cannabis is well known to help relax muscles, fight inflammation, and provide pain relief! Cannabinoids are also known to have antispasmodic properties that help prevent muscle spasms due to things like, overworking or straining of a muscle, dehydration, trauma, and damage to nerves or to the spinal cord.

Reduce anxiety, get excited about exercise, and stay in the “zone.”

Not only does a little ganja loosen your nerves, it can also allow you to be more assertive in your workout. Keith Humphreys, a Stanford Medical School professor told Outside Magazine,

“We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our brains, and when the THC hits those receptors, it triggers a system that reduces anxiety. That you would feel more aggressive is a natural reaction to the drug.”

Cannabis is even shown to help athletes get into the “zone.” According to a McGill University professor and executive director of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids, “It may help some athletes get into a zone and put their bodies through very tough physical activity. It may enable them to focus on those repetitive tasks.” This is why many long distance runners use vaporizers or edibles before participating in a marathon so that they can stay in that zone and maintain a competitive speed.

Improve your focus and performance.

Did you know that there are gyms specifically designed for users to toke up before they work out. Clifford Drusinsky, a triathlete, and Colorado gym owner told Men’s Journal, “Marijuana relaxes me and allows me to go into a controlled, meditational place. When I get high, I train smarter and focus on form.” The relaxed state provided by cannabis makes you intensely more aware of what you are doing at the time. Of course, this also depends heavily on the type of weed you are consuming. As a rule of thumb, Sativa dominant buds like Green Crack should be your go-to for increased focus and productivity.

So, it would appear that with the right strains, cannabis can be a huge boost for your next workout. Toking up before your next long run or yoga session could be just what the doctor ordered to make your workout more enjoyable and more effective. Be advised though, just like any other supplement, cannabis is not a miracle drug. Its effectiveness will depend on your unique physiology and how you consume it.

You may need to experiment with different doses and methods of consumption to find the right effect for you

You’ll also want to focus on strains that are Sativa dominant and high in CBD and THCV to garner the most benefit from using cannabis to improve your workout. Finally, you’ll want to avoid smoking and opt for vaping or edibles to avoid impeding maximum lung function.

Amber Faust

About the author: Amber Faust is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in natural lifestyle pieces and sociopolitical commentary. Amber is a lifelong activist for social justice and environmental issues. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, drumming, meditation, and yoga.