Health / Expert Advice

CBD and Exercise: Separating Fact from Fiction

CBD is all the rage, but what does science say about what it can actually do?

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has been popping up in news articles and health stores abound. It’s being touted as a cure-all for almost every health issue, and some people are even making CBD a regular part of their post-workout routine. But, you may be wondering whether the hemp-derived oil is really all it’s cracked up to be, and if there really is a need to combine CBD and exercise.

Although its rapid growth in popularity might cause you to think that CBD is some baseless fad, there is science to back up some of the benefits of the compound. Most importantly, CBD is an anti-inflammatory. “It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (a system designed to promote balance throughout the body), to reduce the build-up of chemicals that lead to inflammation,” says Areyo Dadar, a certified trainer and owner of Because of this property, CBD does have the potential to provide relief within exercise recovery. However, much still needs to be studied.

Although it’s unlikely that CBD is the life-changing magic pill that we’ve all been searching for, in certain circumstances, it can be a useful tool, especially when it comes to exercise performance and recovery.

In fact, you may even want to incorporate CBD when doing workouts on the Aaptiv app. But, to help decide if CBD is right for you, you’ll want to make sure that you’re aware of what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to CBD and exercise.

Fact: It can ease muscle soreness

Because CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the discomfort that often follows intense workouts. “This could help those new to workouts find a routine,” says Dadar. “…[CBD] could ease soreness, allowing the individual to establish a routine earlier in the process.” Although there are currently no studies directly linking CBD consumption to reduced muscle soreness, its ability to fight inflammation could curb the discomfort associated with your body’s repair process.

Fact: It can reduce pain

CBD has also been found to help with pain relief. One review found that CBD was effective in overall pain management in those with chronic pain, without adverse side effects. “It can be applied topically to reduce specific or localized muscle pain, added to baths (think: bath bombs) to increase the effectiveness of warm baths after a workout, or taken internally for distribution throughout the entire body,” says Dadar.

Fact: It could aid in endurance

Combining CBD and exercise could help improve your performance. Again, more research is needed in this specific area, but it’s beginning to look like CBD might lead to better endurance. “One study found that without an in-tact, balanced endocannabinoid system, a runner’s high might actually not be possible,” says Dadar. “Therefore, taking CBD could help boost endorphins during workouts, allowing those who consume CBD to achieve a better level of endurance.”

Fiction: It eliminates the need for recovery

Just because you’re taking CBD doesn’t mean that you get to throw all caution to the wind. You still need to allow your body the proper recovery time, regardless of your use of CBD as an aid. “Athletic/workout recovery is science,” says Dadar. “Workouts break down muscle fibers. When they rebuild, they become stronger, which increases strength. No product can eliminate the need to recover properly.” Combining CBD and exercise can help reduce recovery time and discomfort during recovery, but it doesn’t replace it altogether.

Fiction: All CBD is the same

Unfortunately, CBD today is still unregulated, so you’re not always sure what you’re going to get. “This means that what’s labeled ‘CBD’ might not be CBD, might contain other substances, or may not contain the amount [that] the label says it does,” says Dadar. “Working with a trusted manufacturer who backs up their product is absolutely essential.” When searching for a product, according to Consumer Reports, look into where its grown and whether it was tested for CBD and THC levels. Dosages vary, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re not getting too much or too little.

Fiction: It’s a drug that will get you high

Many people fear CBD because they associate it with marijuana—but CBD will not get you high. “Although CBD can be derived from the marijuana plant, it can also come from the hemp plant,” says Dadar. “In either case, it can be isolated from other cannabinoids like THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ associated with traditional marijuana use. It really can provide benefits for athletes without compromising integrity.”

When it comes to CBD and exercise, it’s clear that more research needs to be done to truly solidify all of its potential benefits. For now, it seems to be a viable aid for discomfort related to exercise recovery, and it can’t hurt to give it a try after your workout if you go for a high-quality, tested oil. Pair it with a meditation on the Aaptiv app for an even more relaxing post-workout recovery.

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