Impact of Smoking Weed on Workout Performance and Fitness

The use of weed has been a controversial topic in the last decade. There's been a rise in fitness enthusiasts who are drawn to the use of cannabis, believing it enhances their performance.

Some claim it aids concentration, reduces anxiety, and even improves sensory experiences during workouts, making exercise routines more enjoyable and engaging.

While the positive effects of smoking weed have been documented, its impact on workout performance and fitness is still in question. That being said, what does current evidence say about the use of weed in physical health? Can it boost workout performance, or is it another bro science that could do more harm than good?

This article will explore the impact of weed consumption on health and wellness and its effects on workout performance and fitness journey.

Cannabis, also known as weed, pot, or marijuana, is a plant known for its psychoactive and medicinal properties. It contains 2 major compounds: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD).

  • THC - is responsible for the plant's "high" or psychoactive effects, including altered senses, mood changes, and perception of time.
  • CBD - is the active compound in weeds that produces medicinal effects such as reduction in pain and inflammation.

While it is commonly used through vaping or smoking, weed can also be used as a cooking ingredient or as oil.

Weed can be used in different forms, including edible consumption, oils, or smoking dried leaves or flowers.

Psychological effects

Positive: Weed is known for inducing a sense of relaxation and well-being in many users. It can produce euphoria, heightened sensory perception, and a general sense of calm.

These effects are often sought after for stress relief, with some individuals finding cannabis helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The presence of CBD, particularly in higher ratios, can contribute to these calming effects without the intense high associated with THC.

Negative: Long-term use of weed can also induce anxiety, paranoia, and psychotic episodes, especially in individuals with a predisposition to mental health disorders.

High doses or strains with a high THC content are more likely to cause these adverse reactions. Long-term, heavy use of weed, mainly when initiated in adolescence, has been associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.

Positive: Some users report that weed can enhance their physical activities, especially those that require endurance and pain tolerance.

For instance, in sports like long-distance running, users claim that cannabis helps maintain focus and reduces the perception of pain and fatigue. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are thought to aid in recovery after intense physical exertion.

Negative: However, weed can also impair physical performance. It may reduce coordination, decrease reaction time, and impair motor skills, which can be detrimental in high-intensity or precision sports.

The immediate effects of weeds are not conducive to activities requiring quick reflexes and sharp focus. Furthermore, the increase in heart rate and the potential for impacting blood pressure can concern those with cardiovascular conditions.

Positive: While fewer direct positive impacts are noted, some individuals report that low doses of weeds can lead to creative thinking and problem-solving, potentially due to its psychoactive properties. This aspect is more subjective and depends mainly on the individual's response to cannabis.

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Negative: Weeds are known to impair various cognitive functions. Studies have shown that THC can alter the Hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for processing information, which can affect your ability to form new information.

It can affect short-term memory, concentration, and the ability to perform complex tasks. These effects are usually temporary but can be more pronounced and longer-lasting with chronic use.

For adolescents and young adults whose brains are still developing, regular cannabis use can lead to lasting cognitive impairments.

Positive: Weeds have been recognized for their medicinal properties, including pain relief, reduction of inflammation, and control of epileptic seizures. It's used in managing chronic pain, reducing nausea during chemotherapy, and treating certain neurological disorders.

Negative: Consistent and long-term weed smoking can lead to respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis and lung irritation. Regular smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of chronic cough and phlegm production.

Moreover, the cardiovascular effects, including increased heart rate and alterations in blood pressure, can pose risks to individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. Smoking weed causes an immediate jump in heart rate and dilation of blood vessels, which further increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Might help in weight loss

Weed triggers an increase in appetite, which might result in overeating and weight fluctuations. Normally, this automatically leads to weight gain. However, recent studies suggest that those who regularly use weed are less likely to be overweight and obese.

Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but they theorized that it has something to do with the increased conversion of white fat into brown fat tissue in the body, which is associated with increased calorie expenditure.

Smoking weed seems to have varied effects depending on each individual. Some experiences increase motivation and enjoyment in their workouts when they take cannabis.

On the other hand, others reported feeling lethargic and "couch-lock," which negatively impacts one's willingness and energy to engage in physical activity.

Motivation is crucial for success, whether in career, business, or fitness. Having unpredictable and fluctuating motivation levels can be a significant barrier to succeeding in your fitness journey.

Remember: predictability, habits, and routines are the factors that drive most success in life.

Despite its potential to aid sleep, for some, cannabis use, particularly when overused or dependent upon, can lead to disruptions in natural sleep cycles and the quality of rest, which is crucial for fitness recovery.

Different strains of cannabis have different effects on mental and physical status. The main strains available in most states are Sativa and Indica.

Sativa strains are often associated with more uplifting and energizing effects, which may be beneficial in workouts that require lots of energy and endurance, such as cardio or high-intensity interval training.

Some users also attribute enhancement in focus and creativity when using Sativa strains, which could have a positive effect on people who lack motivation and potentially help them overcome workout procrastination.

Indica are strains that are associated with relaxation and pain relief. This can be beneficial for post-workout recovery and aiding in muscle relaxation. Some individuals prefer to use Indica strains to help reduce workout-related anxiety associated with nervousness or discomfort in a gym environment.

It is not advisable to use it when you need to deal with high-energy workouts but could be more suitable in low-impact and meditative exercises like yoga or stretching sessions.

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Addiction is a massive problem for many people as it impacts major aspects of their lives. Many experts define addiction as the progressive narrowing of things that make you happy.

While cannabis is generally considered less addictive than many other substances, there is a risk of developing cannabis use disorder, which is characterized by a problematic pattern of use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.

It affects productivity, life satisfaction, relationships, and many more. The worst thing is that it's hard to self-assess and recognize addiction until it is too late to realize that you have become dependent on a substance.

Weed smoking or consumption can have both positive and negative effects on health and fitness. Current studies have suggested that the negative impact of weed outweighs the positive benefits when it comes to workout performance and long-term fitness.

Furthermore, routine smoking or consumption of weed can lead to dependency and addiction, which users should always beware of. In the end, it all comes down to your preference and judgment.

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Bert Bauzon is a licensed physiotherapist specializing in spinal care and sports rehabilitation. He writes articles and books about exercise science and health care.

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