In a recently published crossover study, researchers set out to investigate the immediate effects of legal-market cannabis on the subjective responses of regular cannabis users during exercise in a controlled laboratory setting. The study aimed to address concerns about the potential influence of cannabis on physical activity, particularly in light of its legalization and the prevailing stereotype linking cannabis with sedentary behavior.
Despite the widespread belief associating cannabis with a sedentary lifestyle, there has been a growing public interest in the concurrent use of cannabis and exercise, such as running. The study sought to provide insight into how legal-market cannabis affects the exercise experience for individuals who regularly use cannabis.
The research involved comparing participants' experiences of exercise without cannabis to their experiences after the acute ad libitum use of two commercially available cannabis flower products. These products were either Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-dominant or cannabidiol (CBD)-dominant. The 42 participants were regular cannabis users aged between 21 and 39 years.
Participants reported a more positive affect (p < 0.001), increased enjoyment (p < 0.001), and heightened symptoms of a runner's high (p < 0.001) during their cannabis-influenced exercise sessions compared to non-cannabis sessions. However, they also reported increased exertion (p = 0.04). Pain levels remained consistently low and did not show significant differences between cannabis and non-cannabis exercise sessions (p = 0.45). Notably, the effects seemed to be influenced by cannabinoid content, with differences in enjoyment (p = 0.02) and exertion (p = 0.02) more pronounced among participants using the CBD-dominant product.
This study represents the first attempt to investigate the immediate effects of commercially available cannabis on subjective responses to exercise within a laboratory setting. The findings suggest that, among regular cannabis users combining cannabis with exercise, pre-exercise cannabis use may lead to both positive and negative changes in the subjective exercise experience. While this study provides valuable insights, further research using diverse samples, exercise modalities, and methodologies is warranted for a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between cannabis use and exercise experiences.