Let’s high trail it out of here

by DGO Staff

Running could be enhanced with a little weed, research shows (no, for real tho!)

Picture this: a group of runners taking off on a trail, their sneakers pounding the earth rhythmically as they embark on their daily run. Now, imagine some of those runners have indulged in a little marijuana before hitting the track. You might think that cannabis and exercise are an odd combination, but recent research suggests that this stereotype-busting duo might be onto something, paving the way for a new perspective on the relationship between cannabis and physical activity.

A study conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder set out to explore the impact of cannabis on the running experience. The researchers surveyed 49 runners, asking them to rate various aspects of their runs both after consuming cannabis and without using it. The results, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, revealed a surprising connection between marijuana and an enhanced exercise experience.

Participants reported feeling “less negative affect, greater feelings of positive affect, tranquility, enjoyment, and dissociation, and more runner’s high symptoms during their cannabis (vs. non-cannabis) runs.” It seems that cannabis can turn an ordinary run into a more enjoyable and transcendent experience, thanks to the heightened positive emotions and reduced negative feelings reported by the runners.

One fascinating finding was that the runners experienced lower pain levels after their cannabis-assisted runs, despite running slightly slower by an average of 31 seconds per mile. However, researchers emphasized that the decrease in running pace was not statistically significant, meaning that the impact on performance was relatively minor.

What makes this study particularly intriguing is that it challenges the common assumption that cannabis users are lethargic and unmotivated. On the contrary, the study found that regular cannabis users had a more positive exercise experience when incorporating marijuana into their runs. This goes against the stereotypes and aligns with a 2019 study that found people who use cannabis during workouts tend to engage in a healthier amount of exercise overall.

Even older individuals have shown a connection between cannabis use and increased physical activity. A 2020 study revealed that older people who consumed cannabis were more likely to engage in exercise, further breaking down the stereotype that cannabis is solely associated with sedentary behavior.

In a surprising twist, frequent marijuana consumers were found to be more physically active compared to non-users, according to a 2021 study. This counters the notion that cannabis use leads to laziness or lack of motivation, shedding light on the complexities of the relationship between cannabis and physical activity.

While the positive effects of cannabis on exercise are becoming more evident, researchers emphasize the need for further investigation. The University of Colorado Boulder study highlights the potential benefits of acute cannabis use during exercise, but more research is necessary to understand the long-term effects and potential drawbacks. Different methodologies, diverse populations, and varied exercise modalities should be explored to paint a comprehensive picture of the cannabis-exercise connection.

Interestingly, the positive effects of cannabis don’t end with exercise alone. Medical marijuana has been found to significantly improve the quality of life for people dealing with conditions like chronic pain and insomnia. A study by the American Medical Association in the same year emphasized that these improvements are largely sustained over time.

With these findings in mind, it’s essential to approach the relationship between cannabis and exercise with an open mind. The stereotype of the lazy stoner may soon become a thing of the past, as research continues to reveal surprising connections between cannabis use and a more active lifestyle.

As with any substance, moderation and individual differences play a crucial role in how cannabis affects a person’s mind and body. As the world of cannabis research evolves, we’re likely to see more discoveries that challenge our preconceived notions about this ancient plant and its potential benefits. So, whether you’re a runner looking to elevate your experience or someone seeking relief from chronic pain, the interplay between cannabis and wellness is undoubtedly a fascinating subject worth exploring further.


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