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Lazy Stoner Stereotype Dispelled by New Studies on Exercise and Cannabis Use

August 20, 2020 in Health Tips

For decades, the media has been buying into the same old stereotype of lazy stoner types sitting on their couches all day eating bags of snack food. In reality, there has been much research to suggest that cannabis users are very engaged, active and productive, especially when it comes to exercise. Combining cannabis with exercise provides many benefits. A 2019 study supports this hypothesis. In another new study just published, the health of older cannabis consumers was compared to that of non-consumers. In this article I will discuss the stoner stereotype and the results of these two studies.

The 7 Stoner Stereotype Myths about Cannabis Users

1. They are all lazy, unmotivated and inactive
2. They all live in their parents’ basements
3. All skateboarders are stoners
4. They all listen to reggae, the Grateful Dead and jam bands
5. They are all paranoid
6. They only watch stoner movies
7. They only hang out with other stoners

Both movies and TV shows have bought into these stereotypes going back to the 1970s; Cheech and Chong movies, Wayne’s World, the Big Lebowski and That 70s Show just to name a few. Yes, there is a small minority of cannabis users who fit many of the stereotypes, but the majority of us do not.

Study Examining Cannabis Users and Exercise

Exercise, in itself, produces a release of endorphins which elevates one’s mood. That is the result of the bonding of the natural endocannabinoid, anandamide, to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Adding cannabis to your exercise regimen enhances the effects of anandamide.

New research published in 2019 in the Frontiers in Public Health gathered data through an anonymous online survey titled “Cannabis and Health.” Information was collected between January, 2017 and July, 2018 by researchers at the Department of Psychology & Neurosciences and the Institute of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Colorado.

There were 620 participants who were cannabis users living in CA, CO, NV, OR and WA. Those targeted were 21 years and older. They were selected by “Liking” cannabis related pages on Facebook which advertised the survey. In Colorado, the survey was also advertised through medical cannabis card registration clinics and dispensaries in the Boulder-Denver area.

Participants were asked about their demographics, about their general health, their exercise activity and their use of substances. They were required to live in a legal recreational state and to respond to questions about their cannabis use and exercise.

The Results

  • Those who used cannabis concurrently with exercise were younger, more likely to be male, and had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • 81.7% of participants consumed cannabis before OR after exercise
    67.2% of participants consumed cannabis before AND after exercise
  • The majority of users reported that cannabis enhanced their enjoyment of and their recovery from exercise
  • Half of the respondents reported that cannabis usage motivated them to engage in aerobic and anaerobic exercise
  • Many participants who used cannabis reported that they exercised an average of 43 minutes longer per week than those who did not use cannabis
  • The majority of cannabis users acknowledged that it does not enhance exercise performance

New Study on Older Cannabis Users and Exercise

Yet another cannabis user myth, that cannabis slows down the human body while interfering with its psychomotor ability, was dispelled by a new study on sedentary American cannabis users age 60 and older.

The study, Intervention Outcomes with Cannabis Users and Nonusers Age 60 and Older, was conducted by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It was published in the July, 2020 issue of American Journal of Health and Behavior.

The participants were all 60 or older and reported that they engaged in less than 80 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. At the beginning of the study, after 8 weeks and after 16 weeks, they were monitored for the following:

  • Cardiovascular activity
  • BMI
  • Frequency of exercise

Stanford 7-Day Physical Activity Recall Scale (PAR)

Participants were surveyed over a period of four months. The team implemented PAR which accurately measured how often participants exercised. This system distinguishes between work-related and non-work related activity which included measuring the level of intensity. Participants reported the number of hours they slept as well as the time they spent engaged in moderate, hard and very hard activity. This included such activities as housework, practicing a musical instrument, playing a sport and exercising.

Results

At the start of the study, older cannabis users generally had a lower BMI when compared to older non-users. Cannabis users participated in more weekly exercise days during the study and engaged in more exercise-related activities at the end of the study than non-users.

The evidence suggests that cannabis use may actually make it easier rather than more difficult for older adults to exercise, to participate in a supervised exercise program or to increase their fitness level when compared to non-use. This may be a result of the lower body weight of the typical older cannabis user.

Quality of Cannabis Used in Studies

Researchers felt it necessary to point out that with past similar studies, lower quality cannabis was given to participants, making it difficult to make a direct comparison to the results of the current study. The medical cannabis available today at dispensaries in the majority of legal states is of much higher quality.

Sources:
my420tours.com, Stoner Stereotypes, Busted, March 11, 2019
frontiersin.org, The New Runner’s High? Examining Relationships Between Cannabis Use and Exercise Behavior in States with Legalized Cannabis, April 30, 2019
frenchtoast.com, Study: Older Marijuana Users Have Lower BMIs and More Likely To Work Out, Mario Loreto, July 7, 2020
dopemagazine.com, Cannabis Consumers Exercise More Than Non-Consumers, Study of Older Americans Finds, July 9, 2020

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