Most Americans don’t get anywhere near enough exercise — for all kinds of reasons. Some researchers have wondered whether a rise in the use of marijuana is one of them.
“The stereotype is the kid on the couch eating Doritos, not being physically active,” says Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. As marijuana is becoming legalized in more states across the country, “if that was the impact of cannabis on physical activity, that [would be] a big problem.”
There isn’t much scientific literature on the relationship between cannabis and exercise. But some research suggests that people who use marijuana actually tend to have lower body mass indexes and risks for obesity than people who don’t use it, and a 2015 review article from Bryan’s lab found 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 new research published in Frontiers in Public Health, Bryan and her colleagues found that many people do use weed before or after their workouts — and that those who do actually tend to exercise more than the average American.
The researchers gave a survey to 600 adult marijuana users living in states where the drug is legal, including Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. It included questions about cannabis use and exercise, including when people used the drug, whether they felt it affected their workouts and how they thought it influenced exercise motivation and recovery.