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Cannabis Culture

Does smoking weed affect fitness?

Does weed affect fitness?

There are strong associations between cannabis smoking and laziness. Some people might think that if you smoke weed, you probably aren’t a very fit person. However, there are many people who have smoked cannabis and actually had careers related to the fitness of their bodies. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Phelps are two of the most prominent within that category, but there are many more!

Why was cannabis made illegal?

Cannabis was originally made illegal not because of any proven harmful effects, but instead because the government had an agenda in which they wanted to suppress certain minority groups. There was also competition between the hemp and lumber industries, and the government wanted to stomp out that competition as well. Industrial hemp was lighter, stronger, and less expensive than wood, so it posed a serious threat to the profits of the lumber industry. 

It’s important to know this because the association of cannabis with lazy unathletic types of people is a complete misattribution. There were very clear political agendas behind the dominant cannabis user stereotypes of the 20th century. The fact that research demonstrates that cannabis can be used to counteract the negative effects of chemotherapy or other cancer treatments shows in a single example the positive effects cannabis can have on your body and even your mind.

What are the medical benefits of cannabis?

Cannabis contains the cannabinoid THC, which is responsible for most of the physiological effects that produce the high feeling you get when you smoke cannabis. It also causes the increased appetite, the so-called munchies. Another major cannabinoid is CBD, which has been found to have medicinal value for controlling epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Evidence suggests that CBD is also effective at reducing inflammation. 

Does cannabis improve athletic performance?

Many people believe that it provides performance enhancing effects. In one study of French student athletes, 17.8% of young women and 40% of young men had used cannabis more than 10 times over the previous 30 days. This may have to do with the fact that many athletes often claim that cannabis helps them focus and concentrate better. Some athletes also believe that it has a relaxing effect that could help reduce stress and possibly assist with recovery. 

Some athletes believe that smoking weed before working out helps them get into the zone. Due to its pain reducing effects, some also believe that it helps them push through the burning sensation felt throughout the body during a workout. 

How does cannabis help with recovery after exercise?

Weed can help with recovery because cannabis is a vasodilator. This means that it can widen your arteries and improve blood flow, which can help reduce soreness. There’s a common belief shared by runners that smoking cannabis before the run also helps to enhance the runner’s high. This high is a feeling of euphoria that is experienced after running for a period of time and has always been associated with the release of endorphins.

However, research now shows that endorphins may not be able to reach the brain, so it may be more likely that endocannabinoids are the mechanism that leads to runner’s high. That may be why cannabis amplifies the effects of the process. 

Can smoking weed negatively impact athletic performance?

Research on cyclists found that smoking a joint with 1.7% THC (which is much lower than the amount that’s regularly found in a joint), reduced maximum power output for the cyclist significantly compared to those that did not smoke that tiny amount of THC.

On top of that, research also shows that cannabis distorts perception, coordination, and cognition which not only impairs performance but may also increase the risk of injuries when using heavy weights. Combine that with the fact that cannabis can increase your pain threshold as mentioned earlier, and it becomes pretty clear that smoking before a heavy lifting session isn’t necessarily the best thing for injury prevention. Loss of coordination depends highly on the dose and your tolerance, though, so always check in with yourself and be aware of how high you are before attempting any possibly dangerous activities.

Does weed help with muscle growth?

There are no direct studies on how cannabis impacts muscle growth. However, some studies do show that THC from cannabis can impair testosterone production. One study found testosterone levels were 56% lower among men who used cannabis for at least four days a week for at least six months compared to those who had never used it at all. The good news is that, even though most studies show a drop in testosterone, some studies suggest the effect isn’t all that significant.

One study even found that there were absolutely no statistically significant changes to testosterone levels during and after the smoking period as compared with the pre smoking baseline levels. Also, even if testosterone levels do, in fact, drop, the effects are not permanent. Testosterone levels tend to return to normal around just 24 hours of not consuming cannabis or cannabis products. 

There are other hormones that get affected, though. For example, research has shown that smoking about two average sized joints for 14 days led to three times less human growth hormone production. Again, this doesn’t directly mean that you can’t build muscle just because you smoke cannabis because researchers have also questioned whether human growth hormone has that much of a significant effect on muscle growth to begin with. (The effects might be exaggerated). 

Should I smoke weed if I want to work out?

In general, the choice is yours! The higher your tolerance, the less likely there will be some of the negative effects on fitness mentioned here. If you find that smoking a joint before a run helps you complete that run, then go for it! 

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