Getting Ripped at the Gym – Marijuana and Fitness
In the world of health and fitness, cannabis has long been seen as a substance of losers not winners – or has it?
Perhaps, this little locker room secret has always been widely used, but it is only recently, thanks to the global movement to free the weed from criminalization, that has allowed pot smoking, fitness fanatics to leave the locker closet wide open for all to see the stash that lies beneath their fitness motivation.
That’s right, cannabis helps motivate fitness.
So, What Is the Effect of Weed on Exercise?
Sam Smith decided to find out. He wrote an article for Men’s Health where he describes what it was like working out after eating two 5-mg candies.
Sam’s hilarious experience makes even the most dedicated couch potato think that, maybe, exercise is less painful and more exhilarating, or at the very least – fun.
“ Then I noticed that the treadmill noise—the wheep wheep wheep of your shoes hitting the rubberized belt—was starting to sound like drums. Or maybe it was tiny birds. Or tiny birds with drums. I spent maybe two minutes thinking about this before deciding that it didn’t matter, it was amazing—all I wanted to do was go faster, to make the bird-drums more frantic…”
Aside from the little drumming birdies in the brain, the awareness, attunement, and appreciation of rhythm is an aspect of marijuana that many ‘stoners’ understand. A heightened sense of sensuality is a common side effect of smoking, toking or taking marijuana in any form.
Color, light, dark, shape, rhythm, beauty, symmetry, sex – and even exercise – are all experienced with a deeper sensuality that makes one stop and take a moment in appreciation.
The right and left brain stop struggling and reach across the limbic divide to unite as a whole, instead of two parts constantly perceived as at odds with each other in today’s polarized view of the world.
It helps you get in ‘the zone’. That place where you feel everything flows effortlessly, and where all friction has been removed.
Smith’s experience of hi-fitness left him with a new appreciation for exercise, “It was fun. The working out was fun. The exercise was fun. And most of all, the pot changed my approach to the gym—it made me want to be there.”
And he’s not alone, many people find a little pot can go long way to helping performance at the gym, and in fact, this has led to the world’s first cannabis gym opening this year in San Francisco.
Aside from the anecdotal evidence of marijuana as a fitness enhancer, is there any scientific evidence that proves cannabis is a smart part of your fitness regime?
Are THC and CBD Performance Enhancing Drugs
Unfortunately, the current classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug has limited scientific research on this herb, according to the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration:
Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Some examples of Schedule I drugs include: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.
Surprisingly, Schedule 2 drugs include, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), and fentanyl.
Does this seem sensible to you?
In fact, thanks to these restrictions, there have been only 15 studies conducted on the effects of cannabis and exercise.
But let’s get back to fitness. The only recorded scientific evidence that CBD and/or THC enhances fitness performance is related to the effects of cannabis on anxiety, pain threshold and the fast reduction of inflammation.
These effects help athletes overcome fear and pain, which lets them push higher, faster, and further. The fast healing of inflammation helps speed an athlete’s recovery time, which enables more training time.
THC also acts as a bronchodilator, which dilates the bronchi and decreases resistance in the respiratory airway allowing better airflow to the lungs, which in turn helps blood flow.
So, unfortunately, while there is still no scientific evidence that marijuana will directly make even the most mediocre athlete magnificent, there is sufficient evidence to prove that it can help overcome common problems that can hinder an athlete’s performance.
The Endocannabinoid System and Exercise
However, what has been scientifically proven is that exercise activates the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is exactly what THC and CBD does, so when you use cannabinoids to activate the endocannabinoid system, it functions like a kick start.
When we exercise, certain natural endocannabinoids are increased, and since endocannabinoids can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, it is believed that these endocannabinoids are responsible for exercise-induced euphoria, commonly known as ‘runner’s high’.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) refers to a collection of cell receptors that are found throughout the body, and it is the location of these receptors that is responsible for affecting certain areas of the body.
They can be found in the central nervous system, on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and so on, and this is why cannabis products can be used to treat such a diverse range of ailments.
Our bodies naturally produce CBD, but, just as we can experience a vitamin deficiency, we can also experience a CBD deficiency, which can result in our endocannabinoid system falling out of balance. Certain foods such as fish, hemp seeds and other Omega 3 rich foods help us produce CBD naturally, so perhaps we should think of cannabis as simply a plant that produces CBD and THC, just as carrots produce vitamin A.
Recently, NFL players have come out of the cannabis closet. Eugene Monroe, Derrick Morgan, Jake Plummer and other retired NFL players teamed with Doctors for Cannabis Regulation and penned an open letter to league officials and doctors urging reform to the substance-abuse policy. They find medical marijuana a safe substance that offers pain relief from the injuries sustained while playing the game.
However, different strains and versions of medical marijuana can have different effects, and there are recommended strains for certain activities that range from cardio and kickboxing to yoga.
“Let’s All Take a Puff…”
… Said Equinox yoga instructor Derek Beres at the beginning of a class. Prana is important in Yoga; it is the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe, and when we breathe, we take the energy in, and we add to it on the way out. Adding marijuana to the pranic mix is not a problem in this yoga studio.
Ganja Yoga is the new yoga thing, and Bloom Farms is tuned in and turning people on to Bloom products and Bloom Fitness by holding hugely popular ganja yoga classes in three locations, and they are not alone in this enterprise. Ganja Yoga classes are being held all over North America and this is quickly becoming the latest yoga fad.
But if yoga is not for you, don’t worry, cannabis is good for all kinds of sporty fun, and when you’ve enhanced your performance to a point where you think you are good enough to compete – why not sign up for the 420 Games – or watch it, or whatever.
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