THC, CBD, & Exercise Recovery: A New Study Sheds Light

THC, CBD, & Exercise Recovery: A New Study Sheds Light

Cannabis and exercise go hand in hand more than one would think. In fact, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder, about 80% of cannabis enthusiasts include it in their routine. But is there anything that science has revealed about Delta-9 THC and CBD for workout recovery? 

Yes, on August 5, 2023, the Journal of Cannabis Research published an article on this topic. So if you're interested in learning why people may look toward CBD and THC for their exercise recovery, you've come to the right place. Here, we're going to cover: 

The Importance of Exercise Recovery

Getting up, out, and active is just one part of your fitness journey. But what does recovery have to do with it? 

According to Michigan State University, during recovery, your body can adapt to exercise-related stress, replenish energy storage, and repair tissue. In short, giving your body time to recuperate is important for going harder the next time you work out. 

Everyone's needs when it comes to rest and recovery are different. However, one effective tool you can start implementing is creating a training log, which will help you track how your body feels before and after a workout to assist you in determining your recovery needs better. 

THC & CBD: Factors to Consider

There are about 113 known cannabinoids, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most popular. On a surface level, their main distinction is that Delta-9 THC is psychoactive, but CBD is not. However, their differences go far beyond this one characteristic. 

Within the human body is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). A network of chemical messengers and receptors helps regulate stable internal conditions. CBD and THC can interact with this network because they resemble endocannabinoids, the chemicals used for signaling throughout this system. 

CBD has a minimal binding affinity to CB1 and CB2 receptors but indirectly influences the ECS. THC, on the other hand, will bind to CB1 receptors.

Some enthusiasts claim an added benefit occurs when these two cannabinoids are consumed together. This anecdotal property is called "the entourage effect." However, research has found that a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD can help mitigate any unwanted effects of THC in higher quantities. 

2023 Findings

Are people utilizing Delta-9 THC and CBD for their workout recovery? And what types of results have they experienced?

To answer this question, researchers launched an anonymous survey of 111 participants. Each participant was an individual who regularly partook in cannabis (with products ranging from CBD and Delta-9 THC) and regularly participated in exercise. 

85% of the participants reported that they regularly engaged in aerobic exercise (examples could be swimming, cycling, walking, rowing, running, jump rope), and 85% of participants reported regularly engaging in resistance exercise (such as free weights, medicine balls, weight machines, and body weight exercises for example). And a total of 72% of participants reported partaking in both. 

But what were the results? Here is what the study found: 

  • 93% of participants felt that CBD had aided in exercise recovery

  • 87% of participants felt that THC had helped in exercise recovery

So generally, people who participated in the study felt that cannabis products benefited their recovery. But why might they experience such results? The background information gathered for this study may shed some light.

Potential Benefits of CBD and THC for Recovery

Why were researchers interested in CBD and Delta-9 THC's role in post-workout recovery? Within the background section, there are some interesting takeaways from previous studies on this topic because: 

  • One 2019 study found that CBD and THC may offer anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and sleep-promoting properties, which could benefit post-workout recovery from aerobic and resistance exercises. 

  • study done in 2020 has shown that THC and CBD can assist in reducing subjective perceptions of pain intensity. 

  • According to a 2021 study, researchers found that CBD helped reduce muscle damage following resistance exercises. 

  • Findings from 2022 demonstrate that CBD and THC can potentially reduce the signal protein responsible for inflammation responses. 


It's not too uncommon for cannabis enthusiasts to implement the plant into their workout routine. For decades, there has been a lot of red tape surrounding cannabis research in general and the plant's potential benefits due to prohibitionist legislation and public perception. 

However, as the stigma starts to shed, more and more fascinating insights about people's experiences with exercise, cannabis, and why it may prove beneficial are coming to light. 

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