Green Gains: Cannabis and Exercise
Written by Josh Veal.


Many of us use cannabis primarily for mental health, but THC and CBD might just have a place in your physical care too.

As is often the case with cannabis, any health claims still require a whole lot more research, thanks to the difficulties posed by its status as a Schedule I drug under federal law. But what we do have are some initial studies looking at how it seems to affect athletes during and after exercise.

That said, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of cannabis use in relation to exercise.


  • THC hasn’t been shown to boost performance, strength or aerobic ability—which likely isn’t a surprise to regular users. What it can do, however, is help you stay focused and motivated. Personally speaking, popping an edible before a long walk helps the time pass without notice, along with enhancing the natural beauty around me, and making whatever I’m listening to (music, podcasts, audiobooks) more interesting.
  • Long distance runners have said that both CBD and THC help them reach the runner’s high sooner, so it doesn’t take so long to finally break through the wall. It can also amplify the effects of that natural runner’s high.
  • Both THC and CBD have been shown to help decrease pain for most people, and one of the biggest obstacles in exercise is overcoming the pain. Of course, it’s also important to listen to your body and know when pain is a warning sign of something wrong, rather than pushing through it. 
  • Similarly, where cannabis has really been shown to help is in recovery. One study with 111 participants showed 93% of participants felt CBD assisted their recovery from exercise, and 87% said THC did the same. While we don’t know much about how this works scientifically, the anecdotal evidence is strong that cannabis helps reduce soreness and inflammation.

In essence: Cannabis won’t help you “perform” at a higher level, but it can make exercise feel better, which in turn makes it easier to start doing and keep doing.


  • There is potential danger in mixing cannabis and exercise, of course. Getting too high can make you dizzy and reduce balance, while also slowing reaction times. This can present a real issue with certain activities, such as heavy lifting or running at a fast pace. The danger isn’t just in big accidents like falling off a treadmill, but in small injuries as your thoughts blissfully slip away from proper form and posture.
  • Cannabis increases your heart rate, as does exercise, which can be a worrisome combination. Be especially careful if you have any sort of heart conditions!
  • Get too high and you may find yourself at the gym hiding in a changing room until it all blows over, which isn’t the best experience to have in a place you’re already struggling to convince yourself to visit.
  • Food is fuel, and it’s important to remain properly fueled when exercising. However, you probably don’t want to overdo it, and we all know cannabis increases appetite, so keep that in mind as you head out for your post-gym dinner.

To sum it up: Don’t get too high, and don’t get high at all if you plan on really pushing your limits.