Study Finds People Who Use Cannabis Get More Exercise
A new study upends the myth of the lazy stoner, finding that people over 60 who use marijuana engage in more weekly exercise than people who don't.
Do people who use cannabis get more, the same or less exercise than other people?
If you answer that question with “more", then you likely use cannabis yourself. For everyone else operating under preconceived notions, the answer is likely “less.”
Those who imagine a lazy stoner stereotype are wrong. Like many cannabis myths, the one about smoking weed leading to nothing but long days on the couch binge-watching old Star Trek episodes is being proven false with mounting research. That’s not saying people don’t binge-watch Star Trek, it’s just not all they do.
A new study done by the University of Colorado at Boulder proves that cannabis users engage in regular exercise. In a four-month study involving people over the age of 60, they found cannabis users engaged more in regular exercise and other physical activities than those who did not use cannabis. They also found they had lower body weights.
Although they called the findings preliminary, researchers wrote that the study suggests it may be easier for older adults who use cannabis to increase and maintain healthy exercise behavior, possibly because of their lower body weights.
“At minimum, the evidence suggests that cannabis use does not hinder older adults’ ability to engage in physical activity, to participate in a supervised exercise program, or to increase their fitness as a result of physical activity,” the researchers wrote.
Why study cannabis use among older Americans?
The study is timely. As pointed out by researchers, the over 50 age group ranks among the fastest-growing populations of cannabis users. And those over 65 have reported the greatest increase in cannabis use.
Those trends helped drive the decision to conduct the study. Researchers noted that as older Americans try cannabis in larger numbers, they usually do so to combat pain. Many hope to lessen their dependence on opioids.
The issue of cannabis use by seniors is only expected to grow as the senior population grows. To get an idea of how large, the U.S. Census Bureau expects there will be more Americans over the age of 65 (78 million) than Americans under the age of 18 (76.7 million) by 2035.
Given that fact and the increased marijuana use, the Colorado researchers wrote that it is important to understand how cannabis use could impact factors associated with healthy aging, including weight fitness, physical fitness, and exercise behavior.
The results showed there’s an impact, but it’s positive.
Older cannabis users weigh less, exercise more
The study, which lasted four months, found older adults who use cannabis not only tended to exercise more, they increased their amount of exercise during the study over what non-users did.
The study found that:
- Compared to older adult nonusers, older adult cannabis users had a lower body mass index at the beginning and at the end of the study
- They also engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention
- They also engaged in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention.
The researchers wrote that the study meets the National Institute on Aging’s goals to promote science that makes those “added years as healthy and productive as possible.” That’s become a bigger issue in recent decades as people’s lives are getting longer. The average lifespan in 1920 was about 55 years. That number now is 80. But it’s how people live those additional years that has become more important.
If the preliminary findings of the study are correct, cannabis could play a role in making those golden years much more golden.
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