Until now, there has been little scientific evidence to support the notion that cannabis enhances exercise performance. But a new study is set to change that.
Laurel Gibson, a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder, has started an experimental study to explore what happens when athletes mix cannabis with their workouts. She’s enlisting volunteers who already use weed and exercise.
The physiological effects of cannabis on athletic performance are a topic of growing interest amongst sports scientists and fitness enthusiasts. Many of the underlying mechanisms that underpin these effects remain elusive. However, there is evidence that cannabis consumption can impact exercise-induced changes in cardiometabolic factors.
This is most likely due to alterations in the metabolism of cannabinoids (e.g., THC) and their interaction with the brain’s neural circuitry. This can influence the enjoyment and motivation to perform during physical activity as well as reducing recovery time post-exercise.
These effects are thought to be responsible for the euphoric effects of cannabis that are often perceived by recreational users. In addition to these effects, cannabis may also enhance exercise recovery, reduce pain, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety and mood.
It is believed that these effects are mediated through the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which interact with the central nervous system and regulate various neurotransmitters. The main receptors are CB1 and CB2.
Several studies have investigated the effects of cannabis on sport performance. While most of the research is inconclusive, some of it does suggest that cannabis may help to increase endurance and strength.
As a result of this, some athletes are now experimenting with marijuana as a means to boost their endurance. For example, ultramarathoner Heather Mashhoodi is experimenting with cannabis-infused gummies while she runs.
This is important because if cannabis does boost an athlete’s athletic performance, this could help them to compete against others in their field. It is important to remember, though, that the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits cannabis use on the field of play.
In addition, athletes in WADA-aligned sports organizations around the world run the risk of failing a drug test if they use too much or don’t stop as soon as possible before testing. This could derail their careers.
This is not to say that cannabis can’t benefit athletes, but more rigorous, specifically designed studies examining the acute and chronic effects of cannabis consumption on fitness measures are needed. These trials will need to include diverse exercise tests.
Cannabis is one of the most commonly used recreational substances in the world, second only to alcohol (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2020). Its widespread use has prompted scientists to explore its effects on psychological and physiological functioning. As a result, cannabis administration has been linked to improvements in sleep, pain relief, and recovery from exercise.
Athletes often consume cannabis before competitions and training sessions in order to relax, decrease stress and enhance performance. They also use cannabis to reduce anxiety and sleep disorders, which are common conditions among athletes.
However, research on the effects of cannabis on athletic performance has been limited due to regulatory barriers. In addition, it is important to note that the effects of cannabis vary across people and sports. For example, young people tend to report higher subjective effects than older adults when consuming marijuana.
Despite this, there are still some studies on the effects of cannabis on athletic performance. Some studies suggest that cannabis improves endurance by reducing anxiety and increasing focus.
These studies are based on cross-sectional observations of athletes in various sports. The study’s findings may help to explain why some people are more likely to be able to achieve a certain level of performance while others struggle with it.
Researchers are experimenting with a new way of testing the effects of cannabis on athletes in an effort to make more sense of these results. They have started a program called the ‘cannavan’ in which they pick up subjects at their homes, then transport them to a lab.
The researchers then ask them to run for 60 minutes on a treadmill. They are then asked to rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 10. Their scores are recorded and the researchers then analyze the data.
This study is the first to investigate the effects of cannabis on athletic performance in a controlled environment. The researchers hope their findings will help the governing bodies of sport reevaluate whether cannabis should remain banned.
Several studies have reported that cannabis and other cannabinoids can negatively impact cardiovascular performance during exercise. These include: increased heart rate and blood pressure, decreases in cardiac output, and a reduction in total aerobic capacity. In addition, there is a risk of orthostatic hypotension and dizziness.
Although these effects are not directly related to performance, they should be considered when assessing the effect of cannabis on athletes. This is particularly important when considering the recent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ban on THC use in competition periods.
Inhaled cannabis, or combusted plant material, leads to rapid uptake and potent effects within 30-60 minutes post-consumption. This is a critical time window for investigating the cardiovascular effects of cannabis and other cannabinoids, given that these are commonly consumed around or immediately before exercise [6-8].
Resting cardiovascular physiology is known to be significantly affected by both inhaled and oral cannabinoid consumption. However, the cardiovascular effects of cannabis are less well understood during dynamic exercise. Inhalation of combusted plant material has been shown to reduce heart rate and decrease circulating oxygen and carbon monoxide levels, whereas oral cannabinoid consumption has been shown to increase resting heart rate and circulating CO2 and nitrogen levels.
These rudimentary effects may explain the ability of cannabis to perturb the cardiovascular system, but these effects are not well understood and require additional research to successfully characterize how cannabis and other cannabinoids affect exercise-induced alterations in cardiorespiratory physiology. Further investigation of the effects of both inhaled and oral cannabinoid intake on dynamic exercise performance requires well-controlled, athlete-specific research.
Athletes are increasingly experimenting with the combination of different cannabinoids, both to improve recovery and ease pain during training and competition. Whole plant cannabis products and individual cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have been largely scrutinized for their potential benefits in this regard.
Cannabidiol, an unintoxicating cannabinoid derived from cannabis sativa, has recently become widely available in the United States and other countries and has been reported to have numerous beneficial effects on a variety of human physiological and psychological functions. It has been reported to have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antipsychotic effect in animals.
As countries relax their laws around recreational and medical cannabis use, there is increasing interest in the possible effects of this plant on athletic performance. Despite the current WADA policy, which prevents any athletes from taking it during competition, some are choosing to take cannabis before and after training to increase energy and improve muscle recovery.
Several studies have reported that acute cannabis administration may reduce exercise pain and increase endurance. However, chronic use does not significantly improve these outcomes. Interestingly, some studies also report lower body fat % and BMI among cannabis users. These findings could be due to the metabolic effect that cannabis has on the body, which is a result of modulating the endocannabinoid system.
A study examining the effects of cannabis on sports performance has shown that it has a negative effect on leg fatigue, but it does not affect other aspects of physical activity. Nonetheless, it can reduce the pain associated with nerve pain related to the spinal cord and tight muscles. It can also help to manage fatigue.
The research on the effects of cannabis on athletic performance is still a relatively young field, and many studies are based on clinical populations rather than athletic ones. Therefore, there is a need for well-designed studies that employ diverse exercise tests to better understand the effects of cannabis on athletic performance.
An analysis of the existing literature shows that the use of cannabis in the sport environment is not widespread and that there is currently no strong evidence for any beneficial effects of cannabis on athletic performance. This has been attributed to factors such as sex, gender, sport background, and competition level that influence predispositions for cannabis use.
There is a need for more research on the impact of cannabis on athletic performance and its effects on the body, especially in regard to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This is especially important given the prevalence of cannabis use and the fact that the plant has been linked to a variety of diseases and conditions.
The underlying mechanism that produces these effects is unknown but is thought to involve the interaction of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid receptors in the human body. These are located in the brain and nervous system. These receptors have been shown to be influenced by different compounds in the plant, including THC and CBD.