Can cannabis help you hit the gym?

Will smoking a joint give you the encouragement you need to hit the gym? A new study, published in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that a surprisingly high percentage of people who use cannabis also use it at the gym, and those people report better performance while working out.

Cannabis users who used before or after working out reported increased physical activity over those that separated the two. Not only that, but cannabis users also tended to work out more than the average American.

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The study, performed by Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, and her colleagues found that a whopping 81.7 percent of cannabis users also used it at the gym. They surveyed 620 cannabis users, located in states where cannabis is legal, 494 of which reported using cannabis within an hour of beginning exercise or within four hours of completing it. Participants were asked a number of detailed questions about their usage of cannabis before and after exercise, whether they felt it affected their workouts, and how much it influenced their motivation and exercise recovery.

The study’s authors also found that “Even after controlling for these differences, co-users reported engaging in more minutes of aerobic and anaerobic exercise per week. In addition, the majority of participants who endorsed using cannabis shortly before/after exercise reported that doing so enhances their enjoyment of and recovery from exercise, and approximately half reported that it increases their motivation to exercise.”

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The researchers continued: “In summary, these data suggest that many cannabis users in states with legal cannabis access use in conjunction with exercise, and that most who do so believe it increases enjoyment of, recovery from, and, to some extent, the motivation to engage in exercise. As these factors positively correlate with exercise behavior, using cannabis with exercise may play a beneficial role in the health of cannabis users.”

“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,'” Bryan recently told Time Magazine in an interview. “If, for some people, cannabis is helping them to enjoy the activity more,” cannabis could potentially be an aid in physical fitness.

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However, that comes with one big caveat. “I certainly am not going to tell anybody to start smoking cannabis so they’ll start exercising,” Bryan says. Being high at the gym could be a safety risk. Plus, it’s not known whether consuming cannabis actually causes people to hit the gym more, although the results are promising. Those who consume cannabis may also just be more health conscious.

(Photo courtesy of Victor Freitas on Unsplash)
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