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Is smoking weed and working out good for you? I'm sure you've thought of working out while high--have you tried it?
People tend to have this idea that stoners are lazy couch-potatoes, and they blame this on the weed. There are two problems with this: that stereotype isn’t necessarily true, and weed doesn’t *make* anyone do anything. Weed doesn’t *make* you lazy, just like it doesn’t *make* you energetic.
While it’s true that Indica strains tend to relax you/your body, it doesn’t force you to lay on the couch all afternoon. Marijuana does make us feel content and sometimes sleepy, and surely that’s one of the reasons why we like to smoke it, but that’s not all there is to it. Sativa strains can be energizing, and you’ll find yourself being the exact opposite of the stereotypical stoner.
If you haven't heard of the The Four-Twenty Games, it's about time. The 420 Games were established to show that cannabis users are NOT lazy and to de-stigmatize the millions of people who use cannabis as a part of a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Definitely check it out!
Related article: 7 Key Tips to Break the 'Irresponsible Stoner' Stereotype
In many parts of the U.S., people consider marijuana as not only to be a "dangerous" substance, but also to be a gateway to hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and meth. What they don't realize, however, is that cannabis became harmful and dangerous because of its illegality, not the other way around.
Here’s what happened: marijuana has been illegal for nearly 80 years (the first national regulation was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937) and because of the criminalization, the substance was widely associated with outlaws. Nevertheless, in recent years and as more scientific studies come out debunking all the misconceptions about marijuana, it has become a socially acceptable substance in many places. Due to this relatively recent phenomena, many people with a variety of interests, backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, and professions are trying it. Many highly successful people consume cannabis on the regular, and it’s not a “gateway” drug.
Plenty of people consume cannabis daily without touching substances like heroin or meth. So if you’re thinking of smoking pot for the first time, or even introducing it to your workout regimen, you don’t need to fear!
Is smoking weed and working out good for you? Well, that depends. You have to understand your relationship with cannabis and how it affects your mind and body. Each one of us experiences cannabis in different ways; it depends on your tolerance level, mood, personality, environment, etc.
First! You need to consider the following three disclaimers before you jump into working out while high:
I started getting high while working out just last year, and here is why I love it:
1. Zone-in and Zone-out
I've always thought of exercising as a boring activity, and maybe it's for that reason I didn't get into it until recently. For me, exercising while high eliminates the feeling of boredom. Cannabis distracts my mind from thinking about the time, and instead it keeps me motivated and focused. Instead of worrying about the clock, I am able to think about my “highdeas” and/or whatever I’m listening or watching, not to mention it keeps me grounded in my body in a pleasant way. However, keep in mind this feeling doesn't start right off the bat--you normally have to get into the workout for 10-15 minutes to obtain some momentum before that driven, focused feeling sets in. Despite what you may think, cannabis isn’t magic!
If you’re a cardio queen (or king), then you should know that many long-distance runners admit to getting high while practicing for a marathon. I'd assume they use a vaporizer or edibles to keep their lungs healthy (smoking bud can cause some lung damage, unfortunately). Marijuana helps marathon runners to eliminate any feelings of boredom from the repetition of running, and stay focused on breathing. Quite literally, they achieve a “runners’ high.”
2. Fatigue and Pain
Weed can help you tolerate discomfort, and that may help you to bust out more reps or go the extra mile on the treadmill. As you may already know, cannabis can act like a pain killer, however, it’s important to note that this study by the University of Oxford shows that cannabis allows you to interpret and tolerate pain differently rather than reducing the literal intensity of the pain. In other words, marijuana can distract the person from her or his pain/fatigue rather than eliminating the pain, which makes it better suited for a pre-workout boost than an Advil or Tylenol.
Furthermore, it's common knowledge that our bodies produce endorphins when we exercise, which interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain. Those endorphins are like tiny little doses of something like morphine. Conveniently enough, exercise also stimulates the body to produce small amounts of THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
3. Runner's High/Cardio Exercising While High
Researchers have found that our body already stores THC in fat, and when you exercise, the body can produce small amounts of THC to produce a runner’s high. A runner’s high is your body’s way of coping with pain and fatigue, and it also means that exercise can seriously boost your buzz. By smoking a THC product while exercising, you continually increase the amount of THC in your body, producing a stronger high.
All of this takes place in the endocannabinoid system, which we describe as a group of receptors that cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) interact with. Your endocannabinoid system is literally a bridge between body and mind. It can work as an appetite controller, mood influence, pain moderator, and more.
4. Weight Loss and The Muffin Top
A study by the American Journal of Medicine showed that current weed users, when compared to past users and a control group, have a 16% decrease in their fasting insulin, which is a hormone tied to weight loss. Lower insulin levels can help increase weight loss, aka, smoking pot can help you lose weight. The study also found noteworthy connections between pot use and smaller waist circumferences.
It’s been found that cannabis can help your body to handle insulin properly, facilitating more efficient metabolism and helping weight gain. Now, if you’re a diabetic, keep this in mind, as your body processes insulin and cannabis differently!
Personally, I didn't start smoking weed on a regular basis until the last two or three years, and since then I've been experimenting getting high in a variety of indoor and outdoor occasions. I’ve tried exercising, sleeping, riding a roller coaster, watching a musical or a movie, even attending someone's funeral or praying to a "higher power” while being high.
My ultimate conclusion so far: any experience can be much more meaningful when I'm stoned. I consume a high THC Sativa when I smoke weed before working out, because I find that high THC strains allow for relaxation in pre-workout stretching, and better focus and awareness of my body. After the gym, I consume CBD, which tends to reduce inflammation and helps wind me down from an intense workout. Finally, I find the time to smoke some Indica before bed, for obvious reasons.
Related article: Marijuana Effects: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!
My good friend Sasha, a pioneer in Stoner Fitness, says this:
"Before using cannabis with my workouts I was unmotivated, unable to push myself past my plateaus, and had no desire to be a better version of myself. After learning what strains were best for my needs, I have been applying them before, during and after exercise (depending on what my body and mind requires for the session). I have kept 45 pounds off for over 2 years so far by medicating and meditating with marijuana. It helps keep my anxiety in check and over-all has improved my quality of life tremendously!"
Mike Mercer, co-founder of Soulshine Cannabis, gave his insight about his first experience exercising while high. He's been doing Yoga and CrossFit for the past 7 years, and although he’s very new to smoking cannabis prior to a workout, he recently smoked one of Soulshine's Indica strains, Hindu Kush, before his Yoga class. Mike said:
"It was the absolute best yoga class I have ever experienced! I could feel every muscle fiber in my body. It felt so amazing to feel every muscle group relax and stretch. Everything was enhanced during the class: the teacher's voice, the music, the smell of incense burning. I mentally went into a very deep place that I had never been before, slowing my mind & thoughts for the entire 90 minutes. I plan to integrate this new way of experiencing Yoga from now on.”
And Louis Santiago, Director at CannaSense Total Wellness, described his experience with marijuana and exercise: "I concur with all those findings and add moderation is the key to almost everything in life. The same lame excuses that Cannabis makes people lazy can also be used to say it helps people focus and debunk the fable. It's all up to the individual and their commitment to good health. I have been smoking since I was 12 years old and at the pinnacle of my misuse, I was smoking a pound a month by myself. I eventually realized I had an addictive personality, but being a nonconformist at heart allowed me to get that down to one ounce per month… I’ve started and finished 23 marathons (4 for Team in Training), two N.Y.C. Triathlons and two 150 mile bike rides for M.S. Society...all while under the influence.”
This exercise can be great to practice when you're high, so we here at The BLVD thought we should share it with you! The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere (I do it a lot in the airport). Although you can do this in any position, we recommend sitting with your back straight while learning. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward. Here are the steps:
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time, and exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio for three long breaths. With practice, you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply. This can help you slow down your breathing after a heavy cardio session, alleviate feelings of anxiety, or simply help you take a stronger hit from a bong!