Can Marijuana Help You Get in Shape?

Guillermo Legaria/AFP/Getty Images

Guillermo Legaria/AFP/Getty Images

In most people’s minds, there probably isn’t a link between marijuana use with a healthy lifestyle. The common and pervasive perception of cannabis users, for generations, had been that they were lazy couch potatoes or busy painting or making music — not running half-marathons or putting up serious weight on the bench press. But the more we learn about cannabis, the more we’re seeing that it may be able to play a role in our health and fitness routines.

As cannabis use becomes less stigmatized, and even perfectly legal in certain parts of the country, people are going to find more ways to incorporate it into their lives. Use rates may not necessarily be climbing, but cannabis use is definitely more visible in many areas — be it outside of office buildings, bars and restaurants, or even at fitness centers.

That, naturally, begs this question: Is marijuana use compatible with a healthy lifestyle? Or does cannabis have a place in a fitness routine?

The answer isn’t exactly clear, unfortunately. It’s obvious that marijuana isn’t nearly as dangerous, destructive, or addictive as it has been made out to be. Medical science is only starting to uncover the myriad of physical and psychological benefits that cannabis brings to the table, but we’re still a ways off from figuring that out.

For example, we know that medical marijuana helps many people with health issues. Yet doctors and physicians might be reluctant to discuss it, or point you to a medical marijuana dispensary for relief. It conflicts with federal law, and nobody wants to put themselves, or their practice, at risk. It’s the same reason why big business has yet to loosen their policies involving marijuana — there’s no reason to put themselves at risk of violating federal law.

So, unfortunately, you’re mostly stuck doing your own research or consulting with a naturopath. The truth is cannabis affects each individual in a different way, much like any medicine or substance. You need to do a little bit of experimentation to see what you can handle, in what form, and how much, before you even consider mixing it with your gym routine.

This really is the key — introducing cannabis into your fitness routine may be a great idea for some people and terrible for others; it all depends. There are many other factors to take into account, as well. For instance, the way you’re ingesting cannabis, the strain or specific chemical makeup of what you’re ingesting, and the dosage size can all have a big impact on shaping your experience.

Smoking isn’t typically something healthy people do, for example, so if you were to try mixing cannabis into your fitness routine, you would likely want to ingest it in a different way. Say, an edible, tincture, oil, or lotion. Smoking a heavy indica (a classification of cannabis strains that are associated with drowsiness, or ‘couch lock’) probably wouldn’t be a wise thing to do before heading out for a run.

So, if you do want to experiment with adding cannabis or marijuana, you’ll want to do some experimenting. But first and foremost, make sure that you’re doing so lawfully — either in a state that has legalized for recreational use or for medical use (with proper documentation, of course).

If you do go for it, there are reasons to think that you may see some positive results.

On top of that, there is evidence that cannabis use can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. Marijuana use has been tied to lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and can even help you build stronger bones. The two main ways that cannabis may be able to help you is in pain relief and as a sleep aid — the chemical interactions between your body and the CBD and THC in cannabis creates a therapeutic effect (not always a “high,” necessarily), and many people use cannabis to help them hit the sack.

And as you know, both sleep quality and relaxation periods are absolutely essential to both building muscle and losing weight. Even so, there’s no guarantee that your individual case will reflect that — you may give it a try, and decide it’s not for you. Again — it’s all about personal preference.

So, cannabis may have a place in your fitness routine, and your best bet is probably to use it as a tool to facilitate rest and relaxation periods. But even as you’re working out, a bit of THC and other compounds present in marijuana may help you push it a bit harder, and maximize your pain thresholds and endurance. Many people already go to the gym with marijuana in their system, and see no negative effect.

Right now, the science is seemingly on the side of cannabis. And that body of evidence is only growing. It worked for Arnold Schwarzenneger — it might work for you, too.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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