Study explores CBD (non)effects on health-related fitness

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© 24K Production / Getty Images
© 24K Production / Getty Images

Related tags Cbd sports performance Health claims

Sports nutritionists at the University of Northern Colorado are investigating the influence of CBD consumption in physically active adults to resolve incongruities in the data surrounding its effects.

“CBD manufacturers encourage daily CBD use for physical health and fitness, despite mixed evidence for the support of CBD in measures of health-related fitness and physical activity,” ​they wrote in a recently published study in the journal Nutrients​“The lack of knowledge surrounding the effects of CBD on physical fitness, mental health, and inflammation is concerning for physically active individuals seeking to use CBD for unsupported health claims.”

The study hypothesized that CBD – because of its known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – would improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, average daily step counts, cognitive function and psychological wellbeing scores, and lower resting concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP).

Study details

The double-blind study randomly assigned 48 healthy adults to one of two groups that received either a 50 mg CBD capsule (Six Degrees Wellness, Boulder, CO) or a calorie-matched placebo daily (MCT, Nutiva, Point Richmond, CA) for eight weeks. The CBD dosage was chosen to reflect products available on the market.

Participants completed a total of eight pre- and post-intervention assessments, including blood draws, cognitive function and psychological wellbeing scales, and body size and composition measures. Performance tests evaluated aerobic fitness through relative peak oxygen uptake (VO2​ peak) on visit 2, anaerobic power output on visit 3, and muscular strength as determined by back squat and bench press one-repetition maximums on visit 4. These were repeated in post-intervention visits 5 through 8. 

“Contrary to our hypothesis, eight weeks of CBD supplementation did not lead to improvements in aerobic and anaerobic fitness, physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, and inflammation,” the study reported. “However, the placebo group experienced a decline in mean peak power and relative peak power compared to the CBD group.”

Although no improvements were observed, the researchers suggest that the prevention of reductions in peak anaerobic output may be explained by the combination of CBD and exercise-induced oxidative stress. 

More research needed

“Overall, these findings contribute to the limited knowledge surrounding the effects of CBD on physical fitness, mental health, and inflammation, and highlight the need for further research to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of CBD consumption in healthy individuals,” the researchers wrote.

For future study, the research team will explore the potential mechanism of action and suggests investigation into the effects of longer interventions and higher CBD doses, as well as monitoring of physical activity and exercise training during the test period. 


Source: Nutrients 2023​, 15(12), 2664
“Effects of Oral Cannabidiol on Health and Fitness in Healthy Adults: An 8-Week Randomized Trial”
Authors: Victora A. Flores et al.


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