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Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00099

The New Runner’s High? Examining Relationships Between Cannabis Use and Exercise Behavior in States with Legalized Cannabis

 Sophie YorkWilliams1*,  Charleen J. Gust1,  Raeghan Mueller1, L B. Cinnamon1, Kent E. Hutchison1, Arielle S. Gillman1 and Angela D. Bryan1
  • 1University of Colorado Boulder, United States

Scientific literature examining cannabis use in context of health behaviors, such as exercise engagement, is extremely sparse and has yielded inconsistent findings. This issue is becoming increasingly relevant as cannabis legalization continues, a situation that has been associated with increased initiation of use among adults, and increased potency of available products in legalized states. Physical activity is among the most important health behaviors, but many Americans do not meet minimum exercise recommendations for healthy living. Common issues surrounding low exercise rates include inadequate enjoyment of and motivation to exercise, and poor recovery from exercise. It is unclear whether cannabis use shortly before and/or after exercise impacts these issues, and whether this co-use affects exercise performance. The present online survey study examines attitudes and behaviors regarding cannabis use with exercise among adult cannabis users living in states with full legal access (N=605). Results indicated that the majority (81.7%) of participants endorsed using cannabis concurrently with exercise, and those who did tended to be younger and more likely to be males (p<0.0005 for both). Even after controlling for these differences, co-users reported engaging in more minutes of aerobic and anaerobic exercise per week (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively). 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. This study represents an important step in clarifying cannabis use with exercise among adult users in states with legal cannabis markets, and provides guidance for future research directions.

Keywords: Cannabis, marijuana, Exercise, Health, Cannabis legalization, physical activity, Attitudes towards exercise

Received: 14 Dec 2018; Accepted: 08 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Ross Bailie, University of Sydney, Australia

Reviewed by:

Marisa T. Gilles, Western Australian Center for Rural Health (WACRH), Australia
Jan Fizzell, New South Wales Department of Health, Australia  

Copyright: © 2019 YorkWilliams, Gust, Mueller, Cinnamon, Hutchison, Gillman and Bryan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Sophie YorkWilliams, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, United States, Sophie.Yorkwilliams@Colorado.EDU