Participants reported a ‘more positive exercise experience’ with cannabis.
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Want your “runner’s high” to go even higher? Try a little cannabis before your jog.
That is the takeaway from a newly published study in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
The authors said that the “use of cannabis with various forms of exercise (e.g., running) has received increased media attention in recent years, contradicting the popular stereotype that cannabis is associated with sedentary behavior.”
“Although cross-sectional evidence suggests a positive association between cannabis use and exercise engagement, to date, the acute effects of cannabis on exercise remain unclear,” they wrote.
With that background, they set out to assess the link between marijuana use and exercise by comparing “participants’ experiences of running after ad libitum use of legal market cannabis (cannabis run) to running without cannabis (non-cannabis run) in a real-world setting.”
The researchers assessed 49 participants between the ages of 21 and 49 years old, all of whom were cannabis users.
The participants ran an average of 3.88 miles during both cannabis-influenced runs and non-cannabis runs.
“Although participants ran an average of 31 seconds/mile slower during their cannabis run, this difference was not statistically significant,” the researchers noted, adding that participants reported “less negative affect,” “greater feelings of positive affect,” “tranquility,” “enjoyment,” “dissociation,” and “more runner’s high symptoms” during their cannabis runs.
Moreover, participants also “reported lower pain levels after their cannabis run,” according to the researchers, who said that “perceived exertion” did not differ between the two runs.
“Cannabis form, cannabinoid content, and feelings of ‘high’ were largely unrelated to participants’ experience of exercise while under the influence of cannabis,” the researchers wrote.
“Results suggest that acute cannabis use may be associated with a more positive exercise experience among regular cannabis users. Research using varied methodologies, a range of exercise modalities, and diverse populations is needed to establish the long-term harms and benefits associated with this behavior, as well as the generalizability of these findings to other populations and settings.”
The findings back the experiences of an Oregon runner named Stephen Snazuk, who touted the virtues of running while stoned earlier this year.
“Cannabis for me gives me a lot of mental focus,” Snazuk said in an interview with Central Oregon Daily News in February. “Long ultra runs [require] a lot of mental focus. Maybe 10% endurance, 90% focus. Cannabis on the trail allows me to get into that mindset.”
“I think it helps with my performance overall,” Snazuk added. “Whether it’s recovery; whether it’s running; whether it’s getting a workout down; whether it’s consuming food on the trail—nutrition. I think it has to do with everything.”
The author Josiah Hesse explored the phenomenon in the 2021 book Runner’s High.
In an interview with High Times that year, Hesse said he wrote the book to show readers that “exercise does not have to suck.”
“I think that’s where a lot of Americans are at when it comes to exercise; they think of it as something that they have to get done. You know, the way I would think about like doing my taxes; I really hate doing my taxes; it’s a pain in the ass, and it causes me a lot of stress. I know for some people it’s fun, but I hate doing it, but I do it because it’s something I have to get done,” Hesse said.
In 2022, High Times spoke to a number of former professional athletes who discussed how THC aids with their recovery process.
In the study published this month, the authors said that “feelings of positive affect, dissociation, and enjoyment during exercise are positively associated with an individual’s ability to begin and maintain a regular exercise regimen, it is possible that cannabis use may actually facilitate exercise motivation and engagement among some cannabis users.”
“These findings could explain, in part, why cannabis users are more likely to meet minimum physical activity guidelines and have lower body mass indexes, as well as why cannabis users who use cannabis when they exercise engage in more exercise on average relative to users who do not engage in this behavior,” they wrote, as quoted by NORML.