Does Marijuana Use Motivate People To Exercise?

By Kelly Burch 05/13/19

A new study debunks the popular lazy stoner myth. 

Image: 
motivated woman exercises after using marijuana

Despite the "lazy stoner" stereotype, many people who use cannabis (in states where it is legal) use it before or right after they exercise. According to a recent study, people with this habit tend to be more physically active than the average American. 

“We found that the majority of our sample did endorse using cannabis concurrently with exercise,” study authors wrote. “We found that the majority of participants who endorsed using cannabis concurrently with exercise reported that doing so at least somewhat enhances recovery from and enjoyment of exercise, while approximately half reported that it at least somewhat increases motivation, and a minority reported that it enhances performance. These findings supported our hypothesis that co-users may be co-using because they believe it contributes to recovery after exercise.”

In short, people who are using pot right before or right after exercise say that doing so makes them more motivated and helps them enjoy their workouts more. 

“Given that these are recognized barriers to exercise, it is possible that cannabis might actually serve as a benefit to exercise engagement,” study authors wrote. 

Lead study author Angela Bryan, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said she was “pretty shocked” at the study results, according to Time

“One of the barriers to physical activity is that people say, ‘I don’t like it. It’s boring. It feels bad. I don’t want to do it,'” she said. “If, for some people, cannabis is helping them to enjoy the activity more,” then that relationship needs to be studied more. 

Bryan, who studies psychology and neuroscience, had been concerned that more prevalent marijuana use could have a negative impact on overall health by decreasing exercise. 

“The stereotype is the kid on the couch eating Doritos, not being physically active,” she said. “If that was the impact of cannabis on physical activity, that [would be] a big problem.”

The study found that people who used marijuana before or after exercise got, on average, 2.5 hours of exercise per week, compared with less than 2 hours for people who didn’t smoke around when they exercised. 

Still, Bryan said that people should be careful about mixing marijuana and exercise, since there can be unintended consequences, like an elevated heart rate. 

“I certainly am not going to tell anybody to start smoking cannabis so they’ll start exercising,” she said. However, the research challenges the common picture of cannabis users. 

"It doesn’t seem like the lazy stoner stereotype is really entirely correct,” Bryan said. “You actually can be quite physically active and use cannabis.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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