Forget the go-to stereotype of a lazy stoner. In fact, older people who consume marijuana are more, not less, likely to be found pumping iron or pounding the pavement, research has found.
A new study published in the July 2020 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior enlisted a group of over-60s men and women who were currently doing less than one hour twenty minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Some were assigned to a moderate-intensity physical training program, while others were put on a low-intensity regimen. At a minimum, all were exercising at least three days a week, as some sessions required attendance at a facility where trial participants were supervised through their workouts.
In total, 153 made it through the 16 weeks and only 11 dropped out. Twenty-eight of those taking part in the trial were cannabis users.
Key findings according to the authors were that “older cannabis users…engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention.”
Not only did cannabis users take to and stick with exercise more enthusiastically, they were also in better shape to start with, having a lower body mass index (BMI) on average. The authors admit they’re not entirely sure why cannabis use is associated with lower BMI scores, nor why people who consumed marijuana stuck better to their workout regimen. They didn’t gather information on what types of cannabis were consumed, how often or for what reason.
“Future work”, write the researchers, “should employ methods that allow for a target exploration of the mechanisms by which cannabis might be associated with exercise, be it via lower body weight, increased enjoyment, decreased pain, or faster recovery.”
It’s not the first time cannabis use has been associated with improved fitness. Last year a Frontiers in Public Health paper found that people who used cannabis shortly before or after physical activity reported feeling more motivated to exercise, and that they enjoyed the experience more. This resulted in cannabis users engaging in more minutes of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise per week overall.