Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

Cannabis as a useful workout tool? That was one of many insights shared on the December 2020 Emerge Winter Conference “Cannabis Health & Wellness: Edibles” panel that Leaf411 Co-Founder and CEO/ED Katherine Golden, RN, participated on. During the session, two of her fellow panelists Scott Jennings, CEO and Founder of Pantry Food Co., and John Houston, CEO of Kushla Life Sciences, shared how a small dose of cannabis provided pre-workout motivation and improved their mindset during exercise.

Their experiences may come as a surprise to people who mistakenly equate cannabis with laziness or lack of motivation. However, Jennings and Houston are far from alone in their experiences using cannabis as part of their workout regimen. Recent research suggests that pre-workout cannabis use may trigger a euphoric feeling similar to a runner’s high, motivating people to get moving.

View from tunnel leading to professional sports field.

Cannabis and CBD Hemp in the Professional Sports World

Full-time athletes contend with daunting physical and mental health issues resulting from their intensive training, high-stakes competitions and hectic travel schedules. They are frequently prescribed painkillers, NSAIDs and sleep medications that may be habit-forming and come with unwanted side effects that can hurt performance.

Athletes try to avoid products that dull their focus or competitive drive. They’re looking for every advantage possible to improve overall performance and wellness. After all, that’s why most high-level athletes rely on not only coaches but also nutritionists, sports psychologists, physical therapists and even meditation experts. An increasing number of these top athletes are adding CBD hemp or cannabis to their performance toolbox as well, when allowed by their sport’s regulating authority.

Close-up of referee whistle on a tabletop, representing sports regulating authorities’ changing stance on cannabis.

The International Olympic Committee’s World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently removed CBD from its banned substances list, and the UFC mixed martial arts organization just announced that a positive THC test will no longer be considered a violation of their anti-doping policy. The NFL and MLB also enacted new drug policies that take a much more balanced approach to cannabis.

On the research side, studies like the University of Colorado’s Athlete PEACE (Pain, Exercise, and Cannabis Experience) study provide support for athletes’ use of cannabis to address pain and sleep.

Also, organizations like Athletes for Care are speaking out about the benefits of cannabis as a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals for elite athletes.

Close-up of woman adding post-workout CBD hemp tincture to her drink

Using CBD Hemp or Cannabis for Workouts

Odds are that you’re not an elite athlete; however, the science around cannabis and athletic performance applies no matter where you’re at with your exercise goals.

Remember that cannabis plant compounds, including cannabinoids like THC and CBD, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to restore balance—and everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different.

Keeping this in mind, we do have a few universal suggestions that may help if you’re curious about adding cannabis to your workout routine:

  • Check with your medical provider: We always suggest consulting with your primary provider before starting a new wellness regimen. However, we know that not all physicians are up to date on the latest cannabis and CBD hemp research. Our fully-licensed, cannabis-trained hotline RNs are available at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) to help with your questions and provide links to research you can share with your primary physician. 
  • Be realistic about cannabis’s potential exercise benefits: Cannabis is a tool, not a magic bullet. It works best in conjunction with other proven performance strategies, including a commitment to a regular workout routine, healthy diet, adequate rest and recovery time. 
  • Identify your goals for using cannabis as part of your workout: Are you looking to add marijuana or CBD for a pre-workout lift or as a post-workout recovery tool? This makes all the difference when it comes to product selection. Fast-acting cannabis with a rapid onset and short duration may be better suited for pre-workout, while either CBD hemp or a longer-acting edible with a mix of CBD and THC may be optimal for recovery. Our Leaf nurses are experienced in helping consumers find the best marijuana or CBD for their needs. They can guide you in the right direction, saving you money and time. 
  • Start low and go slow: This is our mantra for all cannabis consumers, whether it’s someone completely new to the plant or an experienced user trying a new product type. By starting with a very small dose and increasing that dose over multiple days, you can find the best amount of THC or CBD for your needs.

Use cannabis safely: Safety goes hand-in-hand with starting low and going slow, so that you can discover precisely how cannabis impacts your workout. For example, some people experience transient dizziness when using cannabis, similar to the sensation when you stand up quickly and feel off balance. This is not something you’d want to discover while running at full speed on a treadmill!

Our Leaf Nurses Can Help With Your Cannabis Wellness Questions

Today’s cannabis and hemp are becoming more sophisticated than ever, with products manufactured for specific needs. If you’ve recently browsed a dispensary’s online menu, you likely know how overwhelming it can be to sort through all the options!

Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses are knowledgeable about different cannabis and CBD hemp products on the market today, as well as the research supporting plant-based medicine for wellness and relief. They provide balanced information, guidance and education that makes your dispensary visit less intimidating.

Curious to learn more? Our Leaf RNs are ready to help! Call our free, anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).