Most avid runners will probably admit there are days when their workout feels miserable, yet they are likely familiar with the term “runners high.” This phenomenon is, of course, not unique to running, as it describes the euphoric feeling that accompanies endorphin release following physical exertion or stress. Lifting weights, playing sports, going swimming or even various kinds of manual labor can also produce this “high.”

However, that’s not usually what people usually mean when they offer the phrase “getting high.” That colloquialism belongs to consumption of world’s most notorious green leaf, namely, marijuana. Although cannabis users have long worn pejorative monikers like “pothead” or “stoner” as a badge of honor, the stigma around the drug is dissipating like smoke into the air with each passing year. Not only are they no longer social pariahs, but it appears they might have a leg up on the soberer individuals in society, according to an article this week from Market Watch.

Story author Nicole Lyn Pesce explains the findings of a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder, writing:

Eight in 10 marijuana users in states where cannabis is legal told University of Colorado-Boulder researchers that they ingest the drug shortly before or after exercise. In fact, two-thirds (67%) said they used it both before and after their workouts, according to the new paper published in Frontiers in Public Health

Researchers surveyed about 600 cannabis users aged 21 and up living in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington about their marijuana and exercise habits. And those who used the drug an hour before working out and/or within four hours after breaking a sweat reported getting 43 more minutes of exercise each week than the cannabis users who didn’t. 

“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,” wrote senior author Angela Bryan, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Institute for Cognitive Science, in a statement.

What’s more, 52% of those who worked cannabis into their exercise regimens said it made them more motivated to work out. And 70% said it boosted how much they enjoyed the activity, while 78% claimed it helped their recovery. …

So considering less than half of U.S. adults aren’t getting the American College of Sports Medicine-recommended 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each week, the report noted that “it is possible that cannabis might actually serve as a benefit to exercise engagement.” After all, the researchers noted that common excuses to skip hitting the gym or going for a run include not being motivated, not enjoying the exercise and suffering pain and injury from not recovering properly — and people in this survey claimed that cannabis use addressed all of these excuses.

Pesce goes on to point out the apparent shortcomings of the findings, noting the inconclusiveness of any direct link. Hopefully more studies like these will yield a comprehensive understanding of the famous crop’s ancillary effects on the human body.

To read her the writeup, click here.