The Exercise High

Exercise and Cannabis

Benefits of medical marijuana, which includes improving mood,
alleviating pain and reducing nausea, are well-documented. Turns out,
there may be more to cannabis, as increasing numbers of medical
marijuana users, including professional athletes, swear by the
beneficial effects it has on their exercise regimen. And, medical
science may just have the explanation behind the favorable relationship
between cannabis and exercise.

Runner’s high, a neurobiological response following aerobic exercise
that’s been described as general feelings of well-being, is a common
beneficial effect of exercise. Many theories abound as to what causes
this response. One common theory holds that the release of endorphins, a
brain chemical that reduces pain and triggers euphoric feelings, could
be responsible. However, there have been no definitive studies to prove
this theory.

[A study]( content-block) done
in 2004 by Dr. Dietrich from the American University of Beirut and Dr.
McDaniel from Georgia State College and University sheds some light on
this phenomenon. This review, which was published by the British Journal
of Sports Medicine, described the biochemical states of male college
students after they had exercised on a treadmill or stationary bike for
50 minutes. Findings of the study show that exercise increases the
amount of
circulating in the body, which possibly could induce the runner’s high
effect. As the body’s natural cannabinoid chemicals, these compounds
bind to cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system to produce
the neuropsychological changes consistent with runner’s high. Similarly,
when you ingest cannabis, its cannabinoid ingredients bind to
cannabinoid receptors of your body, which in turn generate the same
feelings of well-being. These receptors also regulate mood, appetite,
pain and memory, boosting your capacity to push through an intense

Runner’s high is often touted as the short-term benefit of exercise.
However, a

conducted by Alexander Wong et al. from the University of Sydney and
published in 2013 by the Drug and Dependence Journal may just provide
some insight into how marijuana could create a longer-term runner’s high
effect. The study demonstrated that exercise can significantly increase
plasma tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in the blood of 14 cannabis
users who completed 35 minutes of exercise on a stationary bike. This is
due to the fact that THC, a major psychoactive cannabinoid compound
found in marijuana, is stored in fat tissues of your body. Thus, when
you’re subjected to conditions that compels the body to utilize fats,
THC is also diffused slowly back into the blood. Furthermore, the same
study found that there’s a positive correlation between the increase in
plasma THC levels and body mass index (BMI). This means that the greater
your BMI, the greater the level of THC diffused to the blood.

In addition, findings from a study
conducted from 2005 to 2010 by Elizabeth Penner et al. and published by
the American Journal of Medicine may just bring some good news if you
want to lose weight. The study, which investigated the metabolic effect
of marijuana on 4657 participants from the National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey (NHANES), reports that current cannabis users exhibit
levels of fasting insulin (body insulin level before eating) that are 16
percent lower than non-users. Since insulin is a hormone that converts
sugar to energy, results of this study suggests that cannabis promotes
proper metabolic function in your body, resulting in weight loss.
Further, cannabis use is also associated with smaller waistlines,
according to the same study.

Due to these effects, marijuana is often used as a training tool by
professional athletes like triathlete Clifford Drusinsky, mixed martial
artist Nick Diaz and snowboarder Ross Rebagliati. And with further
studies, cannabis could be definitively established as something that
many professional athletes have known for a while – a useful part of a
holistic exercise regimen.

Photo Credit.


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