“How marijuana affects your workout or performance depends largely on the type of exercise and goal at hand,” says Jordan Tishler, M.D., a Harvard-trained internist and leading cannabis therapeutics specialist.
Talk to the budtenders at your local dispensary about what you’re after—they’ll be able to direct you properly.
There are road races where you’re encouraged to run high, and gyms dedicated to working out stoned. But what actually happens if you smoke weed and then run—or jump, or lift?
Other times you should stay away: Anything that requires quick decision-making. “Cannabis can be good for focus and repetition, but it doesn’t necessarily enhance your critical judgment or timing,” Tishler says. For some people, getting high increases your chances of making risky decisions, which means you want to stay away from things like street cycling or rock climbing while high, according to older studies.
And skip the edibles: It’s unpredictable how long they’ll take to kick in. Instead, Tishler says the healthiest way to ingest is to vaporize whole flower (some oils and cartridges contain chemicals from the extraction process).
There are also a few risks to working out stoned. Cannabis can elevate your heart rate and drop your blood pressure, so for jacked dudes who already have higher adrenaline running around their bodies, working out high can up your chances of getting lightheaded. “It shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but it would be wise to be aware of this as an issue and not go for the biggest workout of your life the first time you try working out high,” Tishler adds.
Lastly, as any pothead could guess, strain matters. “My patients who are athletes are consuming high-end, specialized strains of cannabis that help them get focused and stay in the zone while exercising,” says Junella Chin, M.D., an integrative medical physician in New York and California specializing in medical cannabis and osteopathic neuromuscular medicine. “Then, my patients who are yogis are using a totally different strain to help with ligamentous strain, laxity and poses, relaxation, and getting them to meditate in a whole new level of awareness.”
That said, while smoking weed before your workout may diminish your peak performance, anecdotal evidence suggests smoking weed can heighten the enjoyment of certain activities, namely ones with repetitive motions, Tishler explains. “If you’re running on a treadmill, cannabis can make it more enjoyable—which can actually make you more motivated to run for longer, and to run more in the future.”
Assuming you live where marijuana is legal recreationally, Tishler recommends testing out sweating stoned with a short, low-risk workout where peak performance isn’t crucial—so not while attempting your deadlift max or on sprint training day, but maybe on a two-mile run.
If you smoke marijuana, and if you work out, then you’ve probably thought about doing both at the same time. Here’s a primer on how weed can affect your lifting sessions, runs, or cycling rides.