Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Exercise provides many health benefits, from improving your cardiovascular health to expanding your lifespan. It also has the ability to lower your tolerance to THC.
This little trick is possible due to the endorphins that a workout stimulates. These endorphins make it more likely you’ll need to consume less weed to achieve the same experience, helping maintain a balanced tolerance without having to stop consumption.
Read on to learn the basics of cannabis tolerance, how exercise interplays with cannabis use, and other ways to prevent tolerance buildups.
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Weed Tolerance 101
Tolerance is the phenomenon where the body becomes resistant to the effects of a particular substance or medicine following regular use. When someone develops high tolerance over time, they require increased amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effects.
In the case of cannabis, tolerance occurs when your body acclimates to the amount ingested. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis and works by attaching to cannabinoid receptors in the brain called CB1 receptors. Repeated consumption of cannabis makes these cannabinoid receptors less sensitive over time, making THC more effective at the same dose.
Research cannot conclusively determine how long it takes each person to develop tolerance, which can be affected by various factors, including genetics, potency, consumption methods, and chronic cannabis consumption. If you notice you need to use more marijuana to achieve the desired effects, you’ve probably developed a tolerance.
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Does Exercise Lower Weed Tolerance?
The short answer is yes, exercise lowers weed tolerance, though the “how” behind how exercise lowers weed tolerance is more complex. THC is stored in the body’s fat cells, which get tapped into when you engage in cardio training. The more body fat you burn off, the less overall THC that gets stored in the body, and the better your cannabinoid receptors will stay sensitive when you do consume cannabis.
Exercising is also handy in decreasing the overall amount of cannabis needed to achieve specific results. Recent studies have shown that the “runner’s high” — long attributed to endorphins — may actually be caused by the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids, which increase after a good workout. Consuming cannabis before a workout may jumpstart the good feelings associated with sweating, making one feel happy and energized without using as much cannabis in daily life.
Besides these two factors, however, there’s not much evidence to suggest that exercise alone decreases marijuana tolerance. The only surefire way to reduce tolerance is temporary abstinence. Those who use weed daily may still need to take other steps to improve tolerance, but striking balanced use with regular exercise can help maintain a happy equilibrium.
Other Ways to Reset Your Cannabis Tolerance
While exercise is a great first step to resetting your cannabis tolerance, it may not be enough. Or, you may just not be a fan of exercising regularly. In either case, there are other ways to reset your tolerance for cannabis.
Take a “T” Break
A cannabis tolerance break is when an individual voluntarily stops using cannabis to help reduce tolerance and allow THC to regain its former strength. Commonly called “t-breaks,” these abstinence windows can last anywhere from one day to a month.
Studies show that the body’s endocannabinoid system breaks down natural cannabinoids quickly, so even a 24-48 hour t-break can noticeably restore the effect of cannabis products. However, if you’re using cannabis to treat one or more medical conditions, we recommend you speak to your physician before suddenly stopping. Some users may experience withdrawal symptoms from going cold turkey.
Use Strains With More CBD
CBD, another major cannabinoid found in marijuana, is a cannabinoid receptor antagonist. This means it blocks the body’s receptors from being over-exposed to free-floating THC, lessening its impact and preventing a build in receptor sensitivity. Opting for strains (cultivars) with higher levels of CBD than THC is a different way to avoid and mitigate THC tolerance.
Another method to minimize the buildup of tolerance is precise dosing. Opt for a consumption method that allows precise dosing, such as tinctures or edibles with prepared serving sizes. These will enable you to know and control exactly how much THC you consume and prevent overuse or overwhelming effects.
Reduce Consumption Frequency
Heavy cannabis users who consume high doses multiple times a day can try reducing their frequency to allow tolerance to settle to normal levels. See if you can gently reduce frequent consumption and achieve desired effects with less frequency.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get my tolerance back?
Exercise is an excellent way to keep tolerance to cannabis at a happy medium. Other methods to rebuild cannabis tolerance include:
- Taking a tolerance break.
- Consuming less THC overall or less frequently.
- Using strains with higher concentrations of CBD or other cannabinoids or terpenes than THC.
How can I make my tolerance break more effective?
T-breaks also allow medical and recreational use consumers to obtain a more potent experience from fewer products. An effective weed tolerance break requires at least two days of abstinence, though up to 30 days can help completely return your tolerance to a baseline of cannabis naivety.
Is it safe to work out while high on weed?
Many individuals report mixing cannabis with exercise, citing increased enjoyment and improved recovery among the many reasons for doing so. However, while running or yoga may be safe while high, you may want to avoid lifting heavy weights or using complex machinery that could potentially lead to injury.