For many athletes, hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products are quickly becoming the newest addition to their pre and post-workout regimens.
While using cannabis for your workout may sound crazy, it’s got loads of surprising health benefits that can help take your exercise routine to the next level.
While exercise is great for your body and mind, it can also take its toll. It’s not uncommon to feel tired, sore, or even nauseous after a hard workout.
And while it’s easy to pop a pill, an increasing number of people are opting for more natural pain relief options.
Not only is CBD oil virtually free of side effects and non-addictive, but there’s a growing body of research supporting its numerous beneficial properties that can help improve your pre- and post-workout experience.
Chronic and acute pain are two of the main reasons people turn to CBD, especially now that the dangers of opioids are a widely recognized problem.
While feeling sore is often a sign that your body is benefiting from your workout, pain resulting from injuries and overwork can negatively impact your lifestyle and workout routine.
Studies show that CBD has useful pain properties that can help alleviate everything from aching muscles to sore joints. In fact, UFC fighter Nick Diaz is a huge proponent of CBD and says he uses it regularly for help with his post-fight healing process.
Inflammation is a normal cellular process that helps protect and heal the body. Not only does it assist with things like muscle recovery, but it also fights off infection and keeps the body balanced.
Daily workouts, though, mean persistent inflammation, and when it becomes chronic, it can become a problem. And when the body is experiencing chronic inflammation, the body is undergoing constant stress and can never fully recover.
Luckily, CBD may be incredibly beneficial when it comes to reducing inflammation. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), some researchers believe that CBD works by mimicking neurotransmitters to minimize the body’s immune response and regulating the metabolic process, and lessening the symptoms of inflammation.
Another great way CBD can help you get the most out of your workout is through promoting strength. The term “runner’s high” refers to that surge of energy you get after intense periods of exercise.
For years, this high has been attributed to the rush of endorphins released by the brain, though recent research has found that our ECS may actually be responsible. What they’ve found is that this sensation may actually be produced by anandamide, which is a cannabinoid naturally produced by our bodies and regulated by CBD.
Another way CBD can help increase stamina when working out is by regulating blood sugar levels. By keeping insulin levels stable, your body stores less fat, building more muscle as a result.
Nausea may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to problems associated with exercise, but it’s a common problem many athletes face. In fact, 93% of long-distance runners reported experiencing gastrointestinal issues while racing.
One of the reasons for this is nerves, especially if there is competition involved. When adrenaline floods the brain, it diverts blood away from the stomach and intestines, disrupting the digestive system and resulting in nausea.
CBD has nausea-fighting properties and can also be a useful tool for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. Taking CBD, along with proper hydration, can reduce the tendency to experience nausea before and after physical exertion.
Despite coming from cannabis, fitness aficionados don’t have to worry that CBD will give them the munchies. In fact, this 2016 study found that CBD can help increase metabolism through the process of “fat browning.”
It activates proteins that break down fat in our bodies and increases the number of mitochondria. This, in turn, helps us burn more energy, a.k.a calories, and can help reduce the creation of new fat cells.
This is important because “white fat” has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, so this “fat browning” process reduces the weight gain that is often associated with those complications.
Helps improve sleep & relaxation
To have an effective workout, you need to get a good night’s rest. Whether you experience chronic lack of sleep or just the occasional restless night, studies show that CBD can help you get some much-needed shut-eye.
Additionally, CBD may reduce the protein that causes cell division, which then prevents the breakdown of tryptophan, boosting the production of melatonin. This may also cause an increase in serotonin since higher concentrations of tryptophan result in serotonin synthesis.
The inflammation-fighting properties of CBD may also help improve sleep since chronic inflammation can result in lower levels of tryptophan. It’s even been found that, in small doses, CBD can help with alertness during the day, which helps promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
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Calms muscle spasms
Muscles spasms are a common problem for athletes and can be extremely painful, producing involuntary contractions in areas like the back and legs.
While the exact cause remains unclear, some common reasons for cramping can be attributed to things like dehydration, low electrolyte levels, and a lack of nutrients.
Another reason cramps occur – and one CBD can help with – is further inflammation.
Inflamed muscles are basically injured tissues, and cramping is a response to let your body know that there’s a problem. As mentioned earlier, CBD is terrific for helping the body regulate itself by re-establishing homeostasis and promoting overall body relaxation, which can reduce inflammation and alleviate painful cramping.
Helps with weight management
Alicia Salazar, a health coach from NYC, suggests her clients incorporate CBD into their lifestyle plans to help assist with their weight loss goals. Along with a proper diet and exercise, CBD is a great way to get a boost when it comes to shedding pounds.
CBD can help with things like insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, liver function, and fat cell conversion (as discussed previously). CBD can help support and assist healthy metabolic functions to promote healthy weight levels.
When it comes down to it, the ECS plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body. So using CBD to help support a well-functioning ECS is a great way to go about proper weight management.
Improves immune system function
When your immune system isn’t working as it should, your body is going to have a difficult time recovering after a hard workout. Injuries can be exacerbated and worsen over time when this is the case.
CBD can help suppress your immune response when it’s overactive and causing inflammation, as well as boost it’s healing powers when it’s not functioning at an optimal level. Research has indicated that CBD can work to reduce cytokine production which, in turn, inhibits T-cell function, making it an immunosuppressant.
Protects the heart, lungs, and brain
Working out takes a toll on the body, and that’s why you need to make sure vital organs like your heart, lungs, and brain are all functioning properly. Luckily, CBD has been shown to help with cardiovascular issues as well as brain and lung function.
Further research is needed, but a 2015 Brazilian study shows promising evidence that CBD can be beneficial for people with lung issues by helping reduce inflammation. In another German study, CBD was also found to help inhibit the production of mucus, which can contribute to lung problems.
Research shows that CBD has numerous brain benefits and can also help reduce anxiety while improving overall mood. Not only can it be beneficial for long term brain function, but being in the right headspace can vastly improve the effectiveness of your workouts and assist with post-exercise recovery.
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About the Author – Isabella J.
Isabella has a degree in Art History and half of a graduate degree in Criminal Justice. Before working for the cbdMD Blog as a content writer, she worked as a blogger in Milan, wrote various books on art and culture, and worked in a criminal profiling unit. As both an American and Swiss citizen, she’s spent a good portion of her life in Europe and thinks mayonnaise is superior to ketchup.
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