What are the effects of cannabis use during exercise?

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The health and fitness world has turned into a multibillion dollar industry and has seen a major spike over the last few decades. People are pushing for a healthier lifestyle, and with that comes new and innovative products that may supplement this change in lifestyle.

Cannabis is becoming more accessible around the world and there are those who stand by its health benefits, with claims that it has the ability to ease pain, anxiety, or even moderate their appetite. But what are some of the effects that cannabis has on someone who is trying to live a healthy lifestyle?

As of now and as is the case with many topics relating to cannabis, the research is limited and inconclusive, however there are indications that can prove the positives and negatives that accompany a healthy lifestyle that involves the use of cannabis. Starting with cardiovascular health, research shows that about an hour after smoking marijuana the heart rate and blood pressure are increased, which may pose a risk and in some patients may lead to a heart attack. With that said, a generally healthy subject will most likely not encounter this problem as their bodies are used to regulating their blood pressure and will not have any issues from the increased heart rate. This position is supported by Harvard University associate professor of medicine. This brings up the question: Does that only apply to smoking marijuana or do other forms of consumption also play a similar role?

Beyond cardiovascular health, the use of marijuana during exercise has the chance of decreasing coordination and distorting the perception of pain. The decrease in coordination puts the user at a higher risk of injury and with the distorted perception of pain they may not be aware of their injury until the effects have worn off. On the other hand, some athletes report using cannabis to ease the pain in extreme cases such as Olympic athletes. Others say the reason for using marijuana during their exercise sessions is to add a euphoric or sedative effect during repetitive and long forms of exercise such as cycling or running. 

Any occasional or frequent user of marijuana is familiar with the appetite enhancing effects that marijuana has on the body. For those that are trying to lose weight through exercise may find it difficult to mix these two aspects of their lives. In more extreme cases, such as those suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa this could prove to have the opposite effect. An increase in appetite can be very beneficial in getting them to a healthy weight that does not put their health at risk. Relating this to someone who has been in the fitness world for some time, they may choose to use marijuana to increase their appetite for their “bulking” season. In cases such as a professional body builder, does this count as a performance enhancing drug? In most natural body building competitions that test for the use of steroids and banned substances, one of the substances that is tested is THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. 

There are many questions still surrounding marijuana in general and how it affects the body, including the effects it has during exercise. With the increasing availability of legal marijuana the hope is to have some answers come to the surface through further testing and research.

 

References:

Agency, The Skyline. “THC and Bodybuilding.” Nutrex Research, 1 Oct. 2019, www.nutrex.com/articles/thc-and-bodybuilding/.

Mammoser, Gigen. “Marijuana and Exercise.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 26 Apr. 2018, www.healthline.com/health-news/heres-why-working-out-while-high-is-probably-a-bad-idea#5.

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