Why more people are working out stoned

‘We are the real-life examples of the people who are actually using weed and really feeling a difference in our physical training’

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As a cannabis photographer and workout enthusiast, Morgan English saw a problem.

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She kept meeting consumers and trainers who were combining weed with their workouts but didn’t always have a community of like-minded people around them. So she opened Stoned + Toned, a Los Angeles-based gym where “cannabis meets cardio.”

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“We are the real-life examples of the people who are actually using weed and really feeling a difference in our physical training,” Stoned + Toned notes on its website. “We hope our community can grow and our little cannabis athletic club can become a wealth of information for the best ways to incorporate cannabis into your personal fitness regiment in a smart and safe way.”

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English is not the first person to notice the benefits that come with combining cannabinoids and physical fitness.

A number of studies in recent years have found that cannabis can increase the motivation to work out and enhance recovery from exercise. Studies have also found that people who consume weed before exercising tend to have longer workout sessions.

That’s the case for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) athlete Daniel Rodriguez, who has a partnership with L.A.-based cannabis retailer Tradecraft Farms.

“I kind of get lost in training when I use cannabis,” Rodriguez told The GrowthOp last year. “Like this morning, I smoked a joint, drank some coffee, threw on my headphones and went for a long run. It gets me a little more focused, gets me in my zone, and I’m not really thinking about the difficulty of the run.”

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It seems his peers would agree. A 2020 poll of 170 mixed martial arts fighters found that nearly half of the respondents use cannabis for recreational or recovery purposes and the overwhelming majority — nearly 80 per cent — have used CBD products.

A 2019 study from the University of Colorado, Boulder, which surveyed cannabis users in legal U.S. states, also found that more than 80 per cent of participants endorsed using marijuana at the same time as exercising.

That said, working out stoned isn’t for everyone and it’s important to start low and go slow when experimenting. Different modes of consumption will also lead to different effects. Long-distance running or stationary bike classes might pair better with edibles, for example, which take longer to kick in, while tinctures and topicals may be best suited for recovery.

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In a recent article, L.A. Weekly notes that research also found that cannabis can increase your heart rate and lower your concentration, so it may not be the best choice for high-intensity training.

On the other hand, the publication notes that cannabis can also ease inflammation and lower blood pressure, among other benefits.

According to Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance, MMA athletes usually consume cannabis for three reasons: pain control, anxiety and sleep.

“The mental aspect of this game is overwhelming,” Novitzky said in 2020. “When you’re going to be facing one of the baddest dudes and girls on this planet in a locked cage, I mean, mentally to be able to do that, it just makes you a special, special person.”

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