As more US states legalize marijuana, cannabis users have become increasingly outspoken about the ways in which the drug has benefited their mental and physical health.
Though the “lazy stoner” stereotype suggests marijuana users are nothing more than couch potatoes with the munchies, those who infuse the substance into their exercise routines have reported more consistent workouts, better mental health, and better body image. A meta-analysis published in April even found that cannabis users tend to work out more than their cannabis-free counterparts.
Little research exists on the intersection of cannabis and exercise. Still, it’s become popular because the substance can make workouts more fun and less pain-inducing and anxiety-provoking, Dr. Jordan Tishler, an internal medicine physician and the president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, previously told Insider.
Start with a small dose, even if you use cannabis regularly
When it comes to how much cannabis you should use pre-workout, experts have the same advice for beginners and advanced smokers: Consume less cannabis than you think you should.
“It’s typically much lower than what people would expect, and certainly lower than what people are used to doing for recreation, for lack of a better word,” Dr. Dustin Sulak, an osteopathic physician and founder of Healer, told Buzzfeed.
According to Sulak, the goal here is a mild high that slightly alters your mental state but doesn’t leave you incapacitated.
To do that, Tishler recommends starting with a small amount, like 5 milligrams of THC, exercising, and seeing how you feel. If you didn’t notice any effects, up your dose a couple more milligrams.
He said his patients benefit from between 5 to 20 milligrams of THC, and said the strain and indica versus sativa don’t matter.
“Everything that everybody knows about strains and indica versus sativa, it’s all crap,” Tishler told Insider. “If you look at the totality of people’s reports, there’s absolutely no specificity to it at all. And if you look at the chemical composition of these strains, there’s just not enough distinction between them.”
Instead of focusing on strains, Tishler said to pick cannabis from a high-quality source like a dispensary and to use medium potency cannabis, where the THC content is between 15% and 20%. A higher THC concentration could overdo the effects of the drug and lead to adverse effects, like anxiety or lethargy, said Tishler.
Choose a delivery method that’s easy to control
The method you use to consume your cannabis before exercising matters too.
You want something that will kick in quickly and that’s easy to control dosage-wise, according to Tishler.
That’s why he suggests a vaporizer, which vaporizes cannabis flower. You can take one or two three-second inhales and build on that to control how high you get.
“Flower vaporizers at the moment are the sophisticated devices that allow us to use cannabis by inhalation without exposing ourselves to the risk of these various toxic elements,” like additives in vape oil cartridges or carcinogens in smoke, said Tishler.
Pick an activity that allows for hyper-focus
Exercising while high isn’t suited for every activity because it makes your brain hyper-focus on what’s in front of you, according to Tishler.
He suggested doing activities that don’t require “situational awareness,” like spinning on a stationery bike at home or at a cycling studio, running on the treadmill, weightlifting, yoga, or easy hiking.