Toke and Tone

Marijuana produces "runner's high," potentially benefiting workouts

It's time for a status update. February marks the second month into the New Year. How are your resolutions to lose weight — yet remain high — coming? Are you reaching for healthier snacks while binge munching? Have you removed yourself from the hotbox that is your bedroom and gotten some exercise?

We didn't think so. But green intervention may be just what you need.

In December, the Green Zone reported on a study that found avid marijuana users had significantly smaller waists and lower body mass index compared to participants who have never used. Pot users also had higher levels of good cholesterol.

Marijuana also might help your workout routine. Research indicates that when pot is used as a supplement, athletes are able to exercise longer and harder, but with less bodily and mental stress, thanks to a THC-induced "runner's high." Marijuana's anti-inflammatory effects also can reduce soreness in joints and muscles.

While much of the research is extrapolated from medicinal pain studies or is anecdotal, exercise scientists like those at the Human Performance Lab at the University of Colorado are delving into the topic.

Spokane dispensaries haven't seen an uptick in athletic clientele. Most laughed at the notion that their regular customers were toking up to tone up — but admitted anything was possible.

The facts: When marijuana is ingested, chemical compounds known as cannabinoids bind with receptors in the body that regulate mood, pain, memory and appetite.

When we work out, our bodies produce endocannabinoids — naturally occurring forms of THC. These endocannabinoids and endorphins create the "runner's high" — an intense feeling or boost of energy experienced during prolonged strenuous exercise. Consuming pot essentially puts you in this euphoric state before your body naturally begins generating the chemical.

The THC-induced euphoria will get you out the door and moving hopefully long enough for your body's natural endorphins to kick in. Anti-inflammatory benefits and general pain relief will allow you to get out of bed the next day without hating yourself and do it all over again.

Before you begin a pot-fueled workout routine, take caution. A body of research also indicates that marijuana slows reaction time and inhibits basic motor skills — dangerous side effects while heavy weight training or running in congested areas. Marijuana can also increase your heart rate by 20 percent or more for up to three hours after smoking, which increases the risk of heart attack in older athletes.♦

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About The Author

Jordy Byrd

Jordy Byrd is The Inlander's listings editor. Since 2009, she has covered the local music and arts scenes, cruising with taxis and canoodling with hippies. She is also a lazy cyclist, a die-hard rugby player and the Inlander's managing cat editor....