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The new runner's high? 80% of cannabis users mix cannabis with their workouts

by druginc

The new runner's high? 80% of cannabis users mix cannabis with their workouts

Eight out of ten marijuana users in countries where cannabis is legal say they take the drug shortly before or after training, and most report that it motivates them to train, helps them enjoy more exercise and improves their recovery , according to surprising new CU Boulder research.

De Edition to be published on Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, is one of the first to explore the complicated intersection between cannabis use and physical activity.

Although many assume that the former hinders the later, the data suggest otherwise.

"There is a stereotype that cannabis use leads people to be lazy and couch-hung and not physically active, but this data suggests that this is not the case," said senior author Angela Bryan, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences and Institute of Cognitive Sciences.

She emphasizes that she in no way recommends the use of cannabis as an aid to exercise.

"The proof is not there yet," she said. "But I am also not convinced that it is harmful."

Questioning the 'couch potato' myth

Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in 10 states of America and medicinal use in dozens more. Yet little is known about how increasing acceptance can affect public health measures in the country such as physical activity and obesity.

Some have speculated that more use could aggravate the obesity epidemic by feeding a sedentary lifestyle. On the other hand, the authors note that the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibits cannabis use in sports competitions because of its potential to improve performance.

Anecdotally, ultrarunners sometimes use marijuana to combat nausea and boredom on long runs. And epidemiological studies show that cannabis users are usually thinner, less prone to diabetes, and have healthier blood sugar levels.

"There are a lot of interesting data points and hypotheses out there, but not many have been tested," says Bryan.

In a first step toward filling the research gap, she and her colleagues surveyed 600 adult marijuana users in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, asking, among other things, whether they ever used cannabis within an hour before or four hours after have used the training.

Eighty-two percent said yes. “We were amazed it was so high,” says Bryan.

A follow-up question from 345 “fellow users” (people who use cannabis for exercise) found that they were more likely to use it than ever before. But 67% said they did both.

Of the fellow users, 70% said it was more fun with exercise, 78% said it stimulated recovery, and 52% said it boosted motivation.

"Given that these are all recognized barriers to exercise, it is possible that cannabis could actually serve as a benefit to engaging," the authors write.

Only 38% said it boosted performance, and in fact, some small previous studies have suggested that it may be harmful.

In particular, those who used together received approximately 43 minutes more exercise per week than those who did not.

The "high of a runner"

How can cannabis, physiologically, influence physical activity?

“There is some evidence that certain cannabinoids reduce pain perception, and we also know that the receptors cannabis binds to in the brain are very similar to the receptors naturally activated during running,” said study co-author Arielle Gillman, a former doctoral student at Bryan's lab who recently published a review article on the subject.

"In theory, you could imagine that if it could dampen the pain and cause an artificial 'runner's high,' it could keep people motivated."

Cannabis is also anti-inflammatory, which could help with recovery.

The study did not look at the type of cannabis (edible, smoked flour, etc.) that the participating people used in addition to their exercise.

The authors note that the study has limitations because it only looks at people who regularly use cannabis and focuses on states that have already legalized it. But more research is already underway at CU Boulder, comparing the activity levels of older adults who use cannabis with those of people who don't.

Preliminary results from that separate study show that after the start of an 16 exercise program, cannabis users exercised more than weeks for non-users.

"As we get older, exercise starts to hurt, and that's one reason older adults don't exercise as much," Bryan said. "If cannabis could reduce pain and inflammation, it could help older adults to be more active, which could be another benefit."

Read the full article at Colorado.edu (EN, source)
See also Leafly (EN)

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