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May 19, 2024

Cannabis Enhances Exercise Enjoyment But May Impair Performance, New Research Finds

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Jan 6, 2024

Overview

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that using cannabis before working out can make exercise more enjoyable, boost motivation, and increase the so-called “runner’s high.” However, cannabis use may also lead to increased exertion and potentially impair exercise performance.

The findings, published this week in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, provide interesting insights into the interplay between cannabis use and the exercise experience. This research comes at a time when both cannabis legalization and interest in fitness and wellbeing are on the rise globally.

Key Research Findings

The University of Colorado research team conducted an anonymous online survey of over 500 adult runners aged 21 and over across the United States. Around 82% of respondents reported using cannabis within one hour before running.

The key findings were:

  • Cannabis users rated their running enjoyment higher than non-users by 15%
  • Motivation to run was 13% higher amongst cannabis consumers
  • More cannabis users (43%) reported experiencing runner’s high compared to non-users (22%)
  • However, cannabis use prior to running was associated with 12% greater exertion and slower running pace

As lead researcher Arielle Gill explained:

“The data help us understand why people might choose to combine cannabis and running. They seem to perceive it as making the running experience more enjoyable, perhaps in part because of an enhanced runner’s high.”

However, she cautioned that increased exertion could take a toll over time and impair performance goals:

“Over time, greater exertion and slower pace resulting from pre-run cannabis use could undermine adaptations to training and overall performance.”

Why Study Cannabis and Exercise?

Cannabis legalization in many U.S. states and globally has normalized its use in various contexts, including before or after exercise. As Dr. Gill notes:

“There is a stereotype, particularly in some running communities, that cannabis use enhances training and performance. However, its ergogenic effects remain unknown.”

Understanding the impacts of this increasingly common combination can inform guidelines for safe and effective integration of cannabis with exercise and fitness goals.

Other Links Between Cannabis and Exercise

Other recent research in this area includes a 2021 study from Macquarie University in Australia. This survey of nearly 900 cannabis users also found increased enjoyment, decreased anxiety, and enhanced recovery from exercise after cannabis consumption.

However, consistent with the Colorado research, it did not find clear performance-enhancing effects. Most survey respondents felt it did not improve measures like strength, endurance or muscle building.

Ongoing and Future Research

Many questions remain about appropriate guidelines for concurrent cannabis and exercise use. The Colorado research team called for further study into optimal timing and dosing of cannabis use with running at various intensities and durations.

They suggest analysis of post-exercise impacts on recovery would also be beneficial.

As cannabis legalization expands, demand for evidence to guide the integration of cannabis with fitness pursuits will likely continue growing.

Conclusions and Implications

  • Cannabis before running can increase enjoyment, motivation and runner’s high but may undermine performance over time
  • More research needed into timing, dosing guidelines for cannabis with exercise
  • Findings inform safe integration of rising concurrent cannabis use and exercise trends
  • Recreational users should weigh pros and cons based on their goals

While cannabis use with exercise offers some potential psychological benefits, those pursuing performance goals should exercise caution. More moderate or well-timed usage may allow enjoyment gains without undercutting training adaptions.

As with any substance, responsible and informed use is advisable. These new insights can help the public better understand this increasingly common combination.

References

Gill, Arielle et al. Pre-Run Cannabis Use Alters Features of the Running Experience: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2023). https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2022.0150

Raichev, Radoslav. Study Shows Pot Makes Workouts Enjoyable, Not Performance-Enhancing, High Times (2021). https://hightimes.com/news/study-shows-pot-makes-workouts-enjoyable-not-performance-enhancing/

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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