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Marijuana Is Linked To An Enhanced ‘Runner’s High’ And Lower Pain During Exercise, New Study Finds



Marijuana is associated with an enhanced exercise experience, making running more enjoyable while reducing pain, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder surveyed 49 runners, asking them to rate various aspects of runs after consuming cannabis and without using it.

The study, published last week in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, found that participants experienced “less negative affect, greater feelings of positive affect, tranquility, enjoyment, and dissociation, and more runner’s high symptoms during their cannabis (vs. non-cannabis) runs.”

They did run a bit slower after consuming marijuana, with researchers observing that they ran 31 seconds slower per mile, but they said that was not statistically significant.

“Participants also reported lower pain levels after their cannabis (vs. non-cannabis) run,” the study says. “Perceived exertion did not differ between runs.”

“Results suggest that acute cannabis use may be associated with a more positive exercise experience among regular cannabis users,” it concludes. “Research using varied methodologies, a range of exercise modalities, and diverse populations is needed to establish the long-term harms and benefits associated with this behavior, as well as the generalizability of these findings to other populations and settings.”

The positive effects of cannabis that the runners reported is consistent with the findings of a 2019 study, which found that people who use marijuana to elevate their workout tend to get a healthier amount of exercise.

Older people who consume cannabis are also more likely to engage in physical activity, according to another study that was published in 2020.

Similarly, in another stereotype-busting study that was published in 2021, researchers found that frequent marijuana consumers are actually more likely to be physically active compared to their non-using counterparts.

Meanwhile, the use of medical marijuana is associated with “significant improvements” in quality of life for people with conditions like chronic pain and insomnia—and those effects are “largely sustained” over time—according to a study published this year by the American Medical Association (AMA).

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Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

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