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Study Tackles ‘Lazy Stoner’ Stereotype, Finds MJ Users Walk More, Exercise Same Amount as Non-Users



While tired views around cannabis and its use have progressively improved over time, there’s no denying that there is still a stigma. Recently, some research has aimed to combat these stereotypes—namely those assertions claiming that cannabis users tend to be lazy, stupid and unmotivated.

Of course, many folks who have used cannabis regularly understand that these generalizations are myths often touted by movies and TV throughout the decades, hoisting up an image of the clumsy, spacey stoner whose main purpose is often comedic relief.

In reality, cannabis users are not a monolith and even cannabis use can take on a number of specific purposes, even enhancing energy and productivity.

A new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports looks to further interrogate those stereotypes that cannabis users are less active. Researchers found that cannabis users not only take more walks on average compared to non-users and e-cigarette users, but they also are no less likely to engage in basic exercise and strength training compared to non-users.

Authors note the increasing prevalence of regular cannabis use, citing that daily use has tripled from 2002 to 2019 (from 1.3% to 3.9%). They similarly note the increased use of e-cigarettes, especially among tobacco users trying to quit smoking.

Looking toward the relationship between cannabis and exercise, authors cite that existing research is somewhat mixed, with some finding no association between cannabis use and physical activity and others noting that athletes are less likely to use cannabis than non-athletes. The study notes these two focuses as limits, in that there is still little known about this relationship as it pertains to adults over the age of 30.

In fact, they state that this study is among the first of its kind to examine the relationship between cannabis and e-cigarette use as it relates to exercise and different exercise types.

Using data on 2,591 adults who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health from 2016-2018, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and Ohio University attempted to measure the potential relationships between exercise, cannabis use and e-cigarette use.

Participants were asked to report the number of times in the past week that they performed specific exercises by category. Using a one through seven scale, participants recorded the number of times they performed an exercise in a certain category over the past week.

Adults were also asked several questions surrounding their use of cannabis and e-cigarettes, specifically how many days they used cannabis and e-cigs over the past 30 days. Researchers then sorted participants into four groups: non-users, exclusive cannabis users, exclusive e-cigarette users and dual users. They also categorized cannabis and e-cigarette users into light, moderate and heavy categories based on the frequency of use.

“Results indicated that participants’ marijuana and e-cigarette use predicted their walking for exercise, with marijuana users walking the highest number of times per week, followed by non-users, e-cigarette users, and dual users,” authors reported. “However, this effect only approached significance after controlling for covariates. There were no significant differences in strength training or general exercise between groups.”

Researchers found that heavy cannabis users reported “significantly worse overall health” than light cannabis users, which they say suggests that light and moderate users do not consider themselves to be in worse health than non-users. E-cigarette users of any frequency did not self-report significantly different health scores than non-users, however.

The study discussion notes that many cannabis users do in fact use cannabis to increase their motivation for and enjoyment of exercise, which may be why it appears that more cannabis users tend to walk for exercise. Researchers also note that those living in large American cities tend to use public transit and walk more, and these cities also tend to be in states with legal cannabis laws—though these are just theories and were not tested.

While they note that more research on the topic is needed, researchers admit that the association between cannabis use and exercise may not be a “primary concern compared to the drug’s relation to other aspects of health for adults.”

“These findings challenge the stereotype that marijuana and e-cigarette users are less active than non-users, and future research should examine the potential mechanisms of these findings,” researchers conclude.