Many Marijuana Users Turn to the Drug for a Surprising Reason: Workout Fuel

Previously researchers have linked the rise in marijuana use with the lack of exercise across Americans. Angela Bryan, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the University of Colorado Boulder commented that if “the kid on the couch eating Doritos, not being physically active” is the reality of cannabis “that [would be] a big problem”. Previous research has cited that people who use marijuana tend to have lower body mass indexes and decreased risk for obesity than non-users. In 2015, Bryan though her research concluded that “cannabis is linked to greater feelings of motivation and enjoyment about exercise, potentially by activating brain pathways involved in feelings of reward and pain response”.

Now in a new study published by Frontiers in Public Health, Bryan found that many people do use marijuana before and after their workouts. In addition those who do tend to exercise more than the average American. Researches surveyed 600 adult drug users living in the US where marijuana has been legalized. The survey included “when people used the drug, whether they felt it affected their workouts and how they thought it influenced exercise motivation and recovery”.

The results where shocking! More than 80% of the responders used cannabis within an hour of beginning exercise or within four hours after. They reported that marijuana helped them to enjoy exercise more and on average got 2.5 more hours of exercise per week compared to non-users. Bryan says this area needs more research as “It’s not known whether the relationship is causal, for one, and using the drug as a workout aid potentially comes with safety risks”. Because marijuana can disrupt motor functions and increase heart rate, high-intensity exercise may be dangerous.

I thought this article was interesting because it is something different than what others have been writing about. I think this article can be linked to our discussion about pain. Perhaps users can exercise more because marijuana helps to reduce pain associated with exercise. I think more research is required in this field. More detailed tests with subjects performing actually activities versus answering survey questions may show different results. I cannot imagine someone who is high running faster than someone who is not. Even the authors mention “people living in states where marijuana has been legalized, which the study exclusively focused on, happen to be some of the most physically active in the country, so it makes sense that cannabis users there would get a lot of exercise”. It will be interesting to see later studies as marijuana becomes legalized in additional states.


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