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Study Suggests Cannabis Can Help Improve Exercise

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Marijuana is gaining popularity as a workout enhancer among runners in states where the substance is legal, a new survey has found.

A team of researchers from the University of Colorado investigated the surprising link between cannabis and exercise. Out of 605 respondents, they revealed that 81.7 percent smoke marijuana before and after their workout.

The study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, is one of the first to explore the link between cannabis use and physical activities.

Cannabis Use In Sports

Marijuana use is often associated with slow movement and inactivity. A few experts have raised concerns that the legalization of the drug could contribute to the obesity epidemic in the United States. However, the respondents claim otherwise.

"There is a stereotype that cannabis use leads people to be lazy and couch-locked and not physically active, but these data suggest that this is not the case," stated Angela Bryan, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the senior author of the study.

Respondents from Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, where recreational use of marijuana is legal, reported that they experience benefits from smoking the substance. Majority revealed that they smoke marijuana an hour before or within four hours after they exercised. Some said that they were more likely to use the drug after the workout. The others, however, admitted that they did both.

When asked what benefits they reaped from cannabis consumption, 70 percent shared that the drug enhanced their enjoyment of the grueling exercise. Meanwhile, 78 percent said it boosted their after-workout recovery.

Around 52 percent claimed that smoking marijuana made them more motivated to move. About 38 percent of respondents said that it improved their performance.

Benefits Of Cannabis Use

The researchers said that there is evidence that can back some of the respondents' claims about the benefits of marijuana. Previous studies have suggested that cannabinoids dull pain perception of the body.

"[W]e also know that the receptors cannabis binds to in the brain are very similar to the receptors that are activated naturally during the runners high," explained Arielle Gillman, co-author of the study. "Theoretically, you could imagine that if it could dampen pain and induce an artificial 'runner's high,' it could keep people motivated."

The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can also speed up recovery after an exhausting physical activity.

The researchers admitted that their study has its limitations. They only spoke to people who regularly use the drug and focused in states where the substance is legal. The evidence is also currently not enough for them to recommend marijuana use as a workout enhancer.

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