The rate of cannabis use among American adults tripled between 2003 and 2018 from 4.1% to 15.9%. During this time, some may expect that rates of exercise among those who use the substance also declined. But this would not necessarily be correct. Researchers from the University of Miami and the Brookings Institute have now found that regular cannabis users tend to exercise the same amount- if not more- than nonusers.
For the study, the researchers examined data from 20,745 Americans between their teenage years and 30’s. The data was collected between 1994 and 2018 as a part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. In particular, the researchers compared self-reported data from questionnaires on how often participants used cannabis within the last month, how often they exercised within the last week, and the number of days participating in each exercise or sport.
Contrary to what some may believe, the researchers found that cannabis users were equally or more likely to have more active lifestyles than nonusers. This remained true among heavier users too. The researchers say that these findings contradict findings from an earlier study on the subject, suggesting a negative relationship between cannabis use and exercise. This earlier research, however, was conducted on an older group of people and before cannabis saw widespread legalization in the US.
While interesting findings, more research is needed for firm conclusions to be drawn. This comes as the study did not include the dose or type of cannabis consumed. On top of this, details on exercise intensity were lacking, and self-reported answers mean that the results are subject to subjective bias.
Nevertheless, the researchers say that their results indicate that cannabis users are not necessarily sedentary and avoidant of exercise. This, they say, should ease some trepidation among policymakers about moving forward with changes in cannabis policy.