Is Cannabis Good For Your Athletic Performance?

Oregon lends itself to a pretty active lifestyle. Hiking, rock climbing, fishing, kayaking, white water rafting, skiing, and snowboarding are all shared pastimes for Oregonians who want to experience all the beautiful nature the state has to offer. But how many people think about using cannabis before these athletic activities?

The average person thinks of cannabis in terms of relaxation, rather than getting up and moving. The stereotypical idea of a stoner is far from an athlete. But more and more scientific evidence points to cannabis as a means of increasing athletic performance.

The Science Behind Cannabis & Athletic Performance

We’ve all grown up in a culture that thinks smoking weed makes you relaxed, even to the point of making you lazy. But, that’s not exactly true.

Let’s start by understanding how cannabis works once ingested into our bodies. The cannabis plant is made up of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. The two most well known cannabinoids are THC (what makes you feel high, less inhibited) and CBD (what makes you feel relaxed and is often associated with weed’s medicinal properties).

These cannabinoids are very similar to chemical compounds our bodies produce naturally, called Endocannabinoids. Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids are processed through our Endocannabinoid System, which is a complex system of receptors all throughout our brain and body. Our Endocannabinoid System plays a role in regulating major things, including: pain, pleasure and reward, motor control, and mood — all of these things are important for athletic performance.

Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids influence our bodies during athletic performance in a few ways. Take, for example, the phenomenon known as the “runner’s high”, where an experienced athlete reaches a state of euphoria during prolonged exercise. For years the scientific and athletic community thought the runner’s high was a result of endorphins, a feel-good chemical, being released in the brain. A new study, published in the National Academy of Sciences, tells a very different story: a runner’s high is actually a result of an endocannabinoid called Anandamide, the human body’s self-produced version of THC.

Using cannabis before prolonged exercise can be a shortcut to finding that elusive runner’s high or peak athletic performance. As Gregory Gerdeman, assistant professor of Biology at Eckerd College, puts it: “That runner’s joy—whether natural or marijuana induced—can minimize distraction and help exercise be not just a means to an end but an enjoyment.”

Besides making exercise more enjoyable, cannabis can have additional benefits for athletic performance. A study published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows cannabis can be an effective temporary bronchodilator. This means cannabis, when vaporized, can increase lung volume and airflow rates, making it easier to breathe through prolonged exercise.

Want To Try Cannabis During Your Next Athletic Activity?

There are a few things you should know before using cannabis during athletic activity.

If it’s your first time or you’re still relatively new to cannabis, you may want to wait until you’re a bit more experienced. Being sure of your dosing limitations is key. Before you try mixing weed and sports, it’s a good idea to understand exactly how much you can handle.

Cannabis can decrease inhibition. This can be great if anxiety gets in your way of trying something new, but it can also mean you’ll be more willing to try something you may not be experienced enough to do. To avoid injury, use your best judgement and make sure not to stray too far out of your ability level.

Pairing Cannabis with Oregon’s Active Culture

Now that you understand the science and possible risks of using cannabis before or during athletic activity, you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want to experiment with. If you do, here are a few low-key activities throughout Oregon you can try. We’ve even paired each activity with the perfect product available at Spark!

Hike Sweet Creek Trail


This easy trail is located near the Siuslaw National Forest and perfect for beginners or intermediate hikers. This waterfall-packed hike is only 2.2 miles round trip to Sweet Creek Falls, or make it a 5.2 mile roundtrip hike to hit all trails. Either route you take will lead you to some beautiful waterfalls and lush green scenery.

Pair it with Voyage’s Trainwreck cartridge. This sativa-dominant strain will put you in a euphoric state right off the bat and keep you energized through your entire hike. If you want to really enjoy the beauty of nature along this trail, this strain is a perfect companion.

Ski or snowboard year-round at Timberline Lodge


Head to this ski resort set deep inside Mt. Hood’s National Forest. Timberline has over a dozen beginner and intermediate runs, so you can feel comfortable with whatever experience level you are working with. The best part about Timberline Lodge? There are runs open during the summer, so you can snowboard and ski all year long.

Pair it with Evolvd Doc Trinity cartridge. Evolvd CO2 oils are green certified, ensuring that your high will be clean. Try their Doc Trinity cartridge for an uplifting high that will keep you in touch with nature and focused on those powdery runs. Doc Trinity is a great strain for athletic activity because it keeps you relaxed without feeling lethargic.

Kayak or Canoe the Willamette River Water Trail


Paddle down the peaceful Willamette River Water Trail, totaling 187 miles. You’ll paddle along beautiful forests, meadows, and even quaint little towns. You can make a whole day of it, or only go for a few hours. If you make it to River Mile 72, you’ll be able to pull your canoe or kayak off the river and stop for a glass of wine at Arcane Cellars at Wheatland Winery & Vineyard! There are plenty of boat rental options if you don’t own your own equipment.

Pair it with one of the flavors from Select Oil’s Social collection. These low-potency vape pens make it easy to enjoy a little high without going overboard, making them perfect for athletic activity. Try Select Oil’s watermelon social pen for a delicious and mellow option while on the water.

Go running on Sauvie Island


Just 10 miles from Portland, Sauvie Island is the largest island on the Columbia River. The island is super flat and gorgeous, a perfect mix for a run. There are ways to make this beautiful loop around the island as short or as long as you want. You can run the full loop for a long endurance run (about 17.5 miles) or keep it short with a quick 3 mile loop, or anything inbetween.

Pair it with the Casey Cookies from So Fresh Farms. Casey Cookies is made from crossing two classic and extremely popular strains: Casey Jones and Girl Scout Cookies. This sativa-dominant hybrid will give you just enough pep in your step to enjoy running. The best aspects of this strain are how long its effects last and its ability to bring your creativity out, so you can let your mind wander away during difficult parts of your workout.

Rock climb at Smith Rock State Park


What better place to learn more about rock climbing than the state park that is considered the birthplace of the modern sport? Take a trip to Smith Rock State Park and try bouldering or climbing one of their more than 1,000 climbs, ranging in all difficulty levels. Whether you are totally new to rock climbing, have only gym experience, or have some experience with the outdoor sport, there are plenty of options for guided, one-day classes at the park as well.

Pair it with a Groen Farms Blue Dream pre-roll. Blue Dream is a true classic in cannabis culture, known for its focused, creative and euphoric high. It’s a mellow sativa, just enough to keep you energized without getting too caught up in your own thoughts. Since this strain is grown by Groen Farms, you can expect high quality flower grown using sustainable farming techniques.

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