Study: Cannabis Consumers More Likely to Engage in Physical Activity

San Diego, CA: Adults who report frequently consuming cannabis are more likely to engage in physical activity than are to those who abstain from the substance, according to data published in The Harm Reduction Journal

A team of investigators affiliated with the University of California, San Diego and with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver assessed the relationship between cannabis use and physical activity in a nationally representative cohort of 2,092 participants (ages 20-59). Study participants wore a battery-operated activity monitor for seven days. Subjects were classified as light, moderate, frequent, or non-current cannabis users depending on how often they used cannabis in the previous 30 days.

Researchers reported, “Frequent cannabis users engaged in more physical activity than non-current users. Light cannabis users had greater odds of self-reporting physical activity compared to non-current users.”

Authors concluded: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to use objective accelerometry measures to assess the relationship between cannabis use and physical behavior in a population-based sample of US adults. The results suggest that frequent cannabis users engaged in more PA (physical activity) than non-current users but spent similar amounts of time in SB (sedentary behavior). … Findings tended to be stronger among adults over 40 and those who did not smoke cigarettes. … Our findings do not support the mainstream perception of cannabis users as living sedentary lifestyles.”

The team’s findings are consistent with those of several other recently reported studies. For instance, a study involving nearly 16,000 US adults, published in March in the journal Public Health, similarly reported, “[T]hose who had ever used cannabis had higher odds of being physically activity compared with those who had not.” Another recent study involving over 12,000 participants concluded, “Marijuana users are equal to or more likely to exercise than non-users.” 

A third study, published last year in the American Journal of Health and Behavior, reported an especially strong correlation between cannabis use and physical activity among older subjects. Investigators determined: “Compared to older adult non-users, older adult cannabis users had lower BMI at the beginning of an exercise intervention study, engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that it may be easier for older adults who endorse using cannabis to increase and maintain their exercise behavior.”

Full text of the study, “Cannabis use, sedentary behavior, and physical activity in a nationally representative sample of US adults,” appears in The Harm Reduction Journal.