Is a cannabis-infused workout more effective than a regular gym routine?
11/25/2019 // Tracey Watson // Views

Cannabis has recently experienced an image turnaround that would make a Hollywood starlet envious. For decades, anyone using marijuana in any form was viewed as a lazy stoner, but as state after state has legislated its use either for recreational or medicinal purposes, cannabis has gone from being the bad boy on the block to being hailed as a natural health miracle.

Several studies have confirmed that people who use marijuana are more health conscious and active than those who do not. A study published in the journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience found that marijuana use is associated with a lower body mass index. And another study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that over a three-year period, marijuana users were less likely to gain weight than those who avoided its use.

Now, another exciting study has found that marijuana users report having more motivation to exercise and are enjoying their workouts more. The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder (UC) and published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, also concluded that marijuana users are more physically active than their non-using counterparts.

Nonetheless, since marijuana can impair certain faculties, experts warn that extreme caution should be used when exercising after taking cannabis. (Related: Even a little exercise has significant health benefits, study shows.)

More regular, fun workouts

As reported by Healthline, the research team examined self-reported data submitted by over 600 marijuana users in states where its use is legal. Over 80 percent of the participants reported using marijuana either directly after or before their workouts.


The results? Healthline notes that the participants – whose average age was 37.5 – reported that marijuana helped them exercise more regularly and for longer periods:

Even after controlling for demographic factors like age and gender, co-users (those who used marijuana before or after exercise) on average took part in 43 more minutes of aerobic exercise per week and 30 more minutes of anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting.

And co-users also surpassed the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations of a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week by nearly 10 minutes.

While the study did not draw conclusions about the reasons for the link between cannabis use and increased exercise, the researchers surmise that it likely has a lot to do with how much marijuana users enjoy their workouts. Several participants also reported that it helped them to recover more quickly after their workouts, and some noted that it seemed to help them be more motivated to exercise or that it improved their performance levels. (Related: Working up a sweat can help improve memory, especially for elderly.)

Dr. Angela Bryan, one of the study’s authors and a professor of psychology and neuroscience, notes that marijuana users just seem to have more fun working out than other people.

“That can help people do it for longer as well,” she explains. “If you’re more motivated and you’re having more fun while you’re doing it, you’re [sic] enjoyment is higher. And we know from decades of exercise work that that’s going to be associated with more physical activity.”

A word of warning

While the study’s findings are encouraging, experts warn that they may not be conclusive.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), notes that the results may simply reflect the fact that these respondents have a different, healthier type of lifestyle in general. He adds that the participants might report similar feelings if they were asked whether marijuana increased their enjoyment of many other everyday activities, including watching TV, eating dinner or playing video games.

And, of course, exercising while high could result in serious accidents.

Nonetheless, it is a known fact that getting people off their couches and engaging in some form of regular physical activity is really difficult. So, as Dr. Bryan says, “If it works for you, fantastic.”

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