Exercise and CBD- The benefits & risks.

Athletes are turning to CBD as a way to enhance exercise. Learn the benefits and risks of working out with CBD.

As cannabidiol (CBD) rises in popularity, new uses for this plant compound are trending all the time. Because of CBD’s new legal status, its array of medicinal properties are being better understood. Those concerned about their general health and fitness are best positioned to take advantage of the healing properties of CBD for exercise.

Excercise, while ultimately beneficial to the body and mind, is a destructive process in the short-term. After heavy weight-lifting and intense cardio exertion, the body’s muscles are broken down, only to later recover and become even stronger. But in-between working out and recovery, it’s common for people to feel soreness and pain.

To properly achieve fitness goals, people look to supplements that are taken before and after working out. CBD reportedly helps people on both ends of this equation. Below are some of the better-known ways CBD can optimize your fitness.

How does CBD help with exercise?

Interacting with the body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors and blocks enzymes that wreak havoc on the body. Effectively, CBD acts as a plant-based pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Here’s how CBD helps with exercise.


While weight-lifting, your body breaks down muscle and eventually builds it back up again, resulting in stronger muscles. The breakdown of muscle, however, can cause inflammation, especially during intense or prolonged workouts.

Inflammation is what causes feelings of soreness after a workout. If inflammation becomes too severe, it can harm muscle growth, even causing them to atrophy.

CBD’s well-known anti-inflammatory properties make it increasingly recommended as a post-workout muscle treatment.

Speeds recovery of torn muscles.

Reducing inflammation in muscles torn by intense workouts is crucial for proper muscle recovery. As mentioned before, excessive inflammation can slow down the recovery process and can even cause muscle loss in the long-term.

Eases pain associated with working out.

Since inflammation is also a cause of pain and soreness after a workout, it follows that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties work as a pain reliever.

Rubbing CBD topicals over sore areas of the body have been shown to reduce pain and soreness after working out.

Sleep recovery.

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for all aspects of your well-being. In terms of fitness, adequate sleep helps to rebuild muscles that were damaged during your workout. Sleeping releases hormones that help to rebuild these damaged muscles.

Additionally, CBD is a mild sedative that can help promote a good night’s sleep. Paired with its anti-inflammatory effects, using CBD as a sleep aide adds to its post-workout potential.

No impairment.

One of the most compelling characteristics of CBD is that it is a cannabis-derivative that does not produce a “high” in the way that its counterpart, THC, does. Thus, it is far less likely to impair performance.

So what about taking CBD before working out to enhance your sessions?

Some athletes and fitness gurus claim that taking CBD before workouts enhances their performance. But people should be cautious when considering this, as there are some side-effects to CBD that could inhibit performance or pose health risks.

Adverse effects of CBD include:

  • Sedation
  • Light-headedness
  • Lower heart rate
  • Dry mouth

Among a few other side effects, the ones listed above could hamper your exercise sessions. Still, proponents of using CBD as a pre-workout note how the calming effect warms their muscles, prepping them for a good workout.

There are many different methods for consuming CBD.

There are several ways CBD can be administered to the body, ranging from edibles to topicals.


A popular way to take in CBD is through the myriad of edibles available on the market. Edibles are convenient as they last the longest and are often tasty. However, sometimes this tastiness is due to high sugar content, so for fitness, make sure the edible is low in sugar.


Topicals are another excellent choice for taking in CBD after working out. They are usually in the form of creams that can be rubbed directly onto sore areas of the body—best for targeting specific areas of the body that need relaxing.

Smoking and vaping.

You can also smoke CBD or vape CBD oil. Consuming through smoke is an efficient way to capture all bioavailability of the compound. Smoking usually requires continuous dosing because the effects don’t last as long as edibles, for example.

Does taking CBD help with exercise?

Anecdotal and clinical evidence point to CBD as being an effective post-workout remedy for pain and soreness. However, many studies emphasize that they are mostly preliminary and that more research is needed to understand how CBD interacts with the body exactly.

The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are what make it well-suited to aid in muscle recovery post-workout. Muscle tearing after intense workouts leads to inflammation, causing soreness, pain, or in severe cases, muscle atrophy.

Some suggest that taking CBD before a workout can enhance performance, but this should be considered cautiously as there are some adverse effects that can inhibit performance.

Ultimately, the non-psychoactive nature of CBD paired with its natural interactions with the body’s endocannabinoid system make it a safe post-workout supplement to try. It is recommended to start a CBD regimen with small doses to gauge its effectiveness for you.

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Andrew Mattison

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