The benefits of a regular exercise regime for physical and mental health have long been recognised by medical professionals and individuals alike, with consistent workouts credited with improving mood, facilitating better sleep, and preventing illness. It has also been highlighted as one of the simplest ways to keep mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, which have been linked to cognitive impairment – at bay, or at least aid in alleviating the symptoms.
According to a study by Harvard Medical, exercise can profoundly affect the brain in a variety of ways – helping memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. A regular routine of running, HIIT or yoga, it seems, can’t just boost the body’s ability to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation and stimulate the reduction of growth factors – it can even facilitate an increase in the volume of selected brain regions – making it a powerful pill to swallow without even having to turn to medication.
From tinctures, edibles, topicals and vaping, CBD can be consumed in a variety of ways
Whether you are working out to lose weight, gain muscle, improve your endurance, or improve your mental health and wellbeing, once you get into the fitness mindset, it’s hard to step back. And, once you’ve got the bug, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the best you can out of each and every session. The fitness industry is filled with wonder-supplements that promise to help users to lose those extra pounds or boost stamina, but the origins of these supplements and their ingredients aren’t always what they seem. With many making dramatic claims that can’t be substantiated, gym-goers are growing tired of extravagant marketing campaigns and products that don’t live up to their promises, and as we become more and more conscious of what we are putting into our bodies, we’re increasingly turning to natural and organic ingredients with well-documented benefits instead.
One such option is CBD, a popular supplement extracted from the cannabis plant that has been making waves in the health and wellness world in recent years. Due to a range of benefits that seemingly span all facets of mental and physical health, it is quickly gaining recognition and is now found in all manner of different health food products and supplements – from tinctures and gummies to teas and even obscure products like beer and chocolate.
CBD can help bring a range of benefits to your health and lifestyle
While it has long been touted for its benefits for those suffering from chronic pain, insomnia, and a raft of other conditions, it has only fairly recently come under the spotlight in the world of sport, and now, more than ever, we’re seeing professional athletes and fitness freaks alike experimenting with it as a performance enhancer. Although this is a relatively new use for the supplement, there appears to be a good reason for the increasing interest surrounding it in this field, with many reporting they have been able to work out harder and for longer as a result of implementing it into their routine. Here, we take a deeper dive into the benefits of CBD as a performance enhancer and look at whether you should consider adding it to your routine for your best results yet.
First things first: What exactly is CBD?
CBD can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp plant
The cannabis plant contains over 100 chemical compounds, the two most known being CBD and THC. While the latter is associated with the psychoactive properties of cannabis users (making you feel high) and is illegal in the UK and much of Europe, CBD, on the other hand, has proven to have a range of health benefits without any intoxicating effects. THC and CBD are separated by just one atom, but this makes a huge difference in the way our bodies receive this compound and react to it. No matter how much CBD you consume, you won’t get high, making it a safe and legal choice to add to your routine. CBD can be extracted from both the marijuana and hemp plant, and, based on the other chemical compounds it can contain, you can find either full-spectrum or isolate CBD. The first one contains small traces of THC, as well as other terpenes, while the latter only contains CBD.
Alleviating chronic and acute pain
CBD has a range of beneficial effects, helping to alleviate many health problems
Perhaps one of the most beneficial effects of CBD is its ability to help alleviate chronic and acute pain. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, it has been shown to reduce common pain-related ailments affecting the back, neck and shoulders, as well as dull muscle aches or injuries affecting the rest of the body. When it comes to the sports and fitness world, interestingly, this also includes ‘DOMS’ – the inconvenient muscle soreness that often follows a tough workout, and this is just one of the reasons we’re seeing athletes, football players and weight lifters alike turning to CBD to help them recover.
CBD is non-addictive and doesn’t come with worrying side-effects
To deal with pain after a workout, some people prefer to use topical creams infused with CBD, which are suited for localised pain. Others, however, suggest taking CBD sublingually in the form of oil or tincture can have prolonged benefits and help deal with the pain much faster. Ultimately, it is up to you to find the type of product that works for your condition, but there are a variety of different options to try – and, if you can’t stand the taste of oil on its own, then gummies or infused teas are a great alternative. Unlike over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, CBD is non-addictive and comes without the worrying side-effects that many pharmaceuticals do – which is one of the many reasons natural choices such as this are gaining increasing popularity.
Boosting energy levels
Introducing CBD into your routine will help your improve your energy over time
CBD has proven beneficial in treating the most common symptoms of exercise-induced muscle fatigue, including cramps, pain, and soreness – but its superpowers, it seems, don’t end there. CBD has also been shown to increase energy levels and can influence your mood due to how it reacts with the neurochemical compounds in the brain related to mood balance. If you’re used to hitting the gym hard on a daily basis, then you might be finding yourself slumping over your desk at the office by the afternoon – but CBD can help to keep you ticking over until 5pm in spite of how intense your workout was. Of course, it is no replacement for proper nutrition, stretching and rest – all of which are important parts of any workout routine – but its supplementary benefits can certainly help.
Promoting healthy sleep
CBD has been proven to improve sleep
When it comes to maintaining optimal health, getting a good night’s sleep is paramount, and even more so when you are working out and expending a lot of energy that needs to be regenerated. Without proper rest, your muscles won’t have the time they need to repair, and you could find yourself feeling exhausted from all of the extra activity – but taking a CBD supplement before bed has been shown to help you drift off more easily and could help if you suffer from insomnia. In fact, research shows it can help improve REM sleep, even aiding with what experts are calling REM sleep behaviour disorder. REM sleep is arguably the most important phase in the sleep cycle, but light sleepers or those who wake periodically during the night often aren’t getting enough of it. If you regularly wake up feeling tired and lethargic, then this could apply to you – and with pain and anxiety two of the leading causes of sleep disturbances, it stands to reason that CBD could be just what you need to improve your night-time routine.
Helping with food cravings
You can add a few drops of CBD oil to your drinks and foods
If you’re working out in a bid to lose some extra pounds, then this will often include upgrading your diet, too. But despite the obvious benefits of eating clean, whole foods over processed treats and simple sugars, changing your ways can come with its challenges – and cravings can threaten to derail your efforts if you don’t take steps to keep them at bay. Craving sugary foods and eating in a chaotic way can delay the results you are working towards and will make your fitness journey longer and less fruitful, but why does it happen? In most cases, cravings happen when your body over-produces a hormone called ghrelin – and it just so happens that CBD is an effective blocker that can stop the overproduction of this hormone. The result? A reduction in hunger pangs and food cravings, leaving you free to fully focus on your next workout.
If you’re considering a good all-round supplement to aid your fitness journey then it seems that CBD has all bases covered, and whilst it’s certainly no miracle worker, it can help to enhance your training and recovery while keeping you on track towards your goals. With summer on the way, there’s no better time to up the ante when it comes to your regime, and this natural ingredient might just be able to help.