Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
With the introduction of cannabis as a legal medicine in many states, health-minded enthusiasts have enjoyed pairing marijuana with exercise to enhance the enjoyment of the experience.
Cycling is one example of an outdoorsy activity, with “stoned cycling” becoming a popular way to enjoy nature, biking, and cannabis simultaneously. While some may wonder if biking while high is a good idea, the answer is generally no — with a few caveats, of course.
Research suggests there aren’t any inherent safety risks on long rides, but there are some crucial common sense elements to consider when consuming cannabis before or during a bike ride.
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Cannabis and Cycling: What the Science Says
While research on biking and cannabis use is limited, a few studies can shine a light on how the therapeutic plant affects physical activities.
A small study compared participants’ abilities to navigate a cycling course sober and under the influence of cannabis. Even under increasingly higher doses of THC, researchers observed few differences in coordination between those who biked sober and those under the influence.
One important point to note is that the participants in this study were regular cannabis consumers and may have high or established tolerance levels. It’s likely those new to cannabis would experience heightened motor skills or coordination impairment — especially if trying products high in THC.
That “high” you feel after using cannabis is similar to the rush of happy hormones released during exercise and high-intensity workouts. It’s suggested our endocannabinoid system (ECS) gets activated in response to activities like biking, resulting in very similar (and potentially enhanced) experiences when combining cannabis and exercise.
Another recent study found up to 82% of surveyed cannabis users consumed it either before, during, or after exercise. People surveyed reported that marijuana makes workouts more enjoyable, boosts recovery, and increases motivation in training sessions.
A research review examining if cannabis improves or impairs athletic performance found the plant had hardly any impact in either direction. However, more research is needed here. Some strains (cultivars) have extreme euphoric or sedative effects that could impact coordination and make injuries more likely.
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Is It Safe to Bike While High?
Since exercise provides so many health benefits — including improved heart rate and blood pressure — it may make sense to add cannabis to your workout routine.
Science supports the physiological safety of biking and smoking weed, but it’s obviously not as safe as biking sober. For safety’s sake, we recommend using marijuana products after exercise. As we mentioned, different people may be better able to maintain the coordination, environmental awareness, and decision-making skills needed to stay safe while biking high than others.
It also depends on what type of cycling activity you’re doing. For example, mountain biking involves long rides that traverse rugged and potentially dangerous terrain. Mountain biking requires a great deal of focus and can be hard to navigate even without cannabis.
The same goes for high-speed or road biking. Deadly bicycle crashes can happen when moving at high speeds or in congested areas like cities or bustling bike paths. Smoking or consuming weed and then getting on your racing bike may be a safety concern.
Riding impaired can be as dangerous as trying to bike drunk. It may be best for yourself and others around you to opt for a natural exercise high and reward yourself with some cannabis after.
Tips for Biking and Cannabis Use
If you’re looking to incorporate cannabis into your cycling routine, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Opt for smokeless forms of marijuana, such as edibles, tinctures, and vapes. Smoking weed can introduce harmful particles into your lungs, which can impact a workout and make breathing more of a challenge.
- Know your dose, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Start low and slowly increase your dose until you achieve the desired experience.
- Choose a trail or path you’re familiar with to avoid getting lost in an impaired state. You may opt for less busy areas to avoid pedestrians, vehicles, or other bikers.
- Choose an energizing strain that is designed to improve your mood, energy, and focus. More sedative marijuana cultivars could make you sleepy, increasing the safety risks during physical activities like biking.
Choose a high-CBD strain. This can avoid the “high feeling” of THC products while still offering benefits like mood boosts and pain relief.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does working out high make you higher?
While working out with cannabis doesn’t necessarily make you higher (it depends on how much THC is in your system), it does produce a euphoric experience. It boosts what’s known as a “runner’s high” or the lost sense of time that comes from a really great workout.
Marijuana and exercise can be very complementary experiences. However, some may find it overwhelming or uncomfortable due to side effects like dry mouth (cottonmouth). Leaving cannabis consumption until after a workout may be the best choice for some people.
Does smoking affect cycling?
Researchers have found that biking under the influence of cannabis doesn’t necessarily impact the ability to ride one way or another. However, cannabis can impact other sensory perceptions that can make mountain biking and road racing more dangerous.
Is it OK to work out after getting high?
Studies have found that many regular cannabis users smoke or ingest marijuana after exercise. Besides being the safer option, using cannabis after a workout can help with muscle recovery, body soreness, and relaxation.