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CBD and Fitness: Before or After Workouts?

CBD is making major moves across the country, daily. If you aren’t seeing it in every organic market, holistic health store, or dispensary, you’ve definitely seen it buzzing through search engines on the web. 

You may not be as familiar with cannabidiol (CBD) and it’s benefits as you are with exercising, how important being active is for your health and longevity, and not to mention, the pros of looking and getting fit, but that’s okay - I’m here to bridge the gap between your 10,000 steps step tracker watch and which CBD oils are the ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ on the market.  

In today’s article, we’ll touch on the beautiful benefits of this magical cannabis herb, how it may benefit you physically and mentally, as well as how important CBD may be in your post-workout routine alongside your protein shake. 1 rep, 2 sets, let’s move!

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound that is derived from the mother cannabis plant herself. A common misconception CBD gets is that because it’s from the cannabis plant, it must get you high or stoned, right? Wrong! CBD is the non-psychoactive component of this magical herb, it won’t have you feeling “high” or exert any mind-altering effects. 

Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are VERY similar but VERY different. Both natural compounds come from the cannabis plant. However, THC does exert a “high” in users and may produce mind-altering effects.

Without getting too into it, THC binds directly with cannabinoid receptors and CBD does not. This may have a lot to do with why users feel a high with THC and don’t with CBD. Anyways, there’s a lot more I could cover on the endocannabinoid system and how it works, but I’ll save that for another article (soon)!

What is CBD Oil and Physical Activity?

Okay, so now that you’ve got a sweet little background picture of what CBD is, I’m sure you’re wondering “how the heck does this pair with fitness and physical activity?”. 

Well, surprisingly, it pairs! Research in the last ten years has been investigating the beautiful benefits of CBD in human physiology, muscle recovery, mental wellness, pain, and others, just to name a few. 

Whether you’re a gym rat or an avid walker or a professional athlete, CBD may be your next secret performance enhancing move you didn’t know you needed. 

Here’s why!

What are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

CBD oil has been described as a natural, non-toxic, and non-addictive compound with potentially therapeutic benefits for a wide range of concerns. 

So what does this mean for us looking to take CBD to improve some aspect of our life? Below, are 5 research-backed ways that CBD may benefit your fitness.

1. Aiding in Muscle Recovery

In 2020, USC performed a study examining the effects of cannabidiol on DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Researchers concluded that those in the CBD treatment group report significantly lower levels of soreness after 1, 2, 3, and 4 days. 

2. Reduce Inflammation

Recently published in Pharmacological Research (2020), scientists examined the benefits of CBD in managing athlete inflammation and pain associated with injury. 

Researchers suggested that CBD could be useful to athletes due to its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. 

3. Improved Sleep

A CBD and sleep study published in 2019 made major moves in the sleep department. 

Researchers investigated the effects of 6-week CBD treatment on anxiety and sleep scores. Of the 72 participants that partook in this study, 67% of them improved their sleep scores in just the first month of CBD treatment. 79% of participants had decreased anxiety scores in the first month as well. 

CBD was suggested to be well-tolerated in these patients with minimal side effects, with sustained improvements in participants’ sleep scores. 

4. Relieving Pain and Stress

A 2004 review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the effects of exercise on the endocannabinoid system. Reviewers discussed the possible explanations for how exercise increases endocannabinoid serum concentrations. 

Researchers suggested that exercise may have an affect on endocannabinoid concentrations, with potential benefits on well-being and reduce anxiety.  

5. May Enhance Performance

An endocannabinoid and exercise article examined the effects of endurance exercise on our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The interesting thing here is that research suggested that our ECS may play a big part of an athlete’s mental status and well-being during exercise. 

This article suggested that endurance exercise may increase concentrations of cannabinoids in the ECS, suggesting that athletes may feel similar to the “runner’s high” phrase. 

Does CBD Oil Have Side Effects?

Cannabidiol has been suggested as virtually having no side effects, if any. Researchers have even described CBD has being generally safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, and well-tolerated amongst animals and humans. 

CBD can affect everyone differently however, so keep in mind that adverse side effects may arise in rare cases, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite

Final Thoughts: CBD Oil and Fitness

If you’ve made it this far, bravo! There is a lot of information (not to mention misinformation) out there regarding cannabidiol. Whether you’re wanting to help improve your mental well-being during exercise to achieve a similar “runner’s high” or you’re wanting to use CBD oil as a muscle recovery aid, with potential to help your DOMS, the research is holding promise to the therapeutic benefits of this magical herb. 

As always, make sure you do your homework. Not every CBD is created equal. Ask questions. Inquire for certificates of analysis and ask for third-party testing. Your choice for quality CBD matters, so trust in us. 

Until next time, see ya!



Dietrich A, McDaniel WF. Endocannabinoids and exercise. Br J Sports Med. 2004. 

Gamelin FX, Cuevelier G, Mendes A, et al. Cannabidiol in sport: Ergogenic or else? Pharmacological Research. 2020. 

Hatchett A, Armstrong K, Hughes B, Parr B. The influence cannabidiol on delayed onset of muscle soreness. International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health. 2020. 

Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, et al. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A large case series. Perm J. 2019.

-- Written by Kirsten Thornhill

Human Physiologist | Content Writer | Lifestyle Medicine Advocate
Kirsten Thornhill was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. She graduated with her Bachelors from CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology and her Masters from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology. Kirsten is very passionate about human physiology and the metabolic and nutritional adaptations that occur in athletes. She has specialized in teaching clinical and practical exercise and rehabilitation applications. She enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of lifetime movement, holistic and lifestyle medicine, and health research and development. Her passion for alternative medicine enables her to strive when promoting health and education.

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