Cannabis consumers have been stereotyped as lazy with a case of the munchies for decades. However, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health suggests that cannabis consumption can actually motivate people to exercise.
The study investigators interviewed 600 adult cannabis consumers in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said they had used cannabis within one hour before or four hours after exercise. Researchers discovered than those who did use cannabis during that time period had longer workouts—an average of 43 minutes longer for aerobic exercise and 30 minutes longer for anaerobic exercise.
“There is a stereotype that cannabis use leads people to be lazy and couch-locked and not physically active, but these data suggest that this is not the case,” said Colorado University Boulder professor Angela Bryan to CU Boulder Today. Bryan is the senior author and works in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Institute for Cognitive Science.
The study did not differentiate between what type of cannabis the users consumed, and only asked people who are already cannabis users. Respondents were generally split between male and female and had an average age of 37.5.
The study found that cannabis users tended to use cannabis for recovery or enjoyment during the actual activity rather than for performance-boosting benefits. Seventy percent of respondents said they strongly agree that cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise, and 78 percent said it boosted recovery. Just over half said it increased motivation. Almost 40 percent said it boosted performance.
“Given that these are all recognized barriers to exercise, it is possible that cannabis might actually serve as a benefit to exercise engagement,” wrote the study authors.
“As we get older, exercise starts to hurt, and that is one reason older adults don’t exercise as much,” said Bryan. “If cannabis could ease pain and inflammation, helping older adults to be more active that could be another benefit.”