Jan 8, 2024 - News

CU Boulder study says weed can make exercise more fun, but not better

Illustration of dumbells with a marijuana joint as the handle.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

If you're looking for extra workout motivation, marijuana could prove helpful.

Driving the news: A study published last week by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found using marijuana before exercising can make workouts more fun, improve motivation and increase the euphoria from runner's high.

Yes, but: It can make workouts feel harder.

Details: Study participants noted higher rates of perceived exertion, something senior study author and psychology and neuroscience professor Angela Bryan tells us is likely connected to THC, which can increase a person's heart rate.

Of note: Studies have been completed in the past on marijuana use and its impact on exercise, but this is the first study using marijuana available legally.

By the numbers: The 42 runners who participated in the study were asked to purchase pre-rolled joints at local dispensaries.

  • Since marijuana is federally illegal and cannot be possessed or distributed on college campuses, researchers used a mobile laboratory dubbed the 'CannaVan' to test runners at their homes.

The intrigue: The euphoric feeling was heightened for people who used pre-rolls with higher cannabidiol (CBD) than those with higher THC amounts, Bryan tells us.

  • "We don't have a good explanation for why that is," she says.

Between the lines: For safety reasons, the participants were people who already used marijuana while running.

  • Further studies need to be completed on people who don't use it regularly while exercising to determine whether they would have the same experience.

Be smart: If you want to use marijuana while exercising, Bryan suggests using lower-potency weed and trying an activity you're already familiar with to start.

Go deeper: What's next for legal marijuana in Colorado

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