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Is a Runner’s High the Same as a Marijuana High? New Medical Study Looks at Working Out and Cannabis


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Researchers at the University of Colorado are investigating the relationship between marijuana and physical exercise. The project, titled “Study on Physical Activity and Cannabis Effects (SPACE),” looks to study the impacts of working out under the influence of cannabis.


Cannabis in the Fitness and Sports Industry

Weed has made headline news in the sports and fitness industry in the last decade. Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, record-setting swimmer Michael Phelps, Mike Tyson, and even the NBA’s MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have contributed in different ways to tearing down the old myths about weed being a performance inhibitor. These individuals are just a few global celebrities who have embraced cannabis in their fitness journeys while maintaining their excellent winning ways. They also faced backlash due to their roles in cannabis activities. One of the loudest backlashes this year was received by Sha-Carri Richarson after she tested positive on her routine marijuana drug test just before the Olympics.

The newfound fame of cannabis within the sports industry could mean that athletes have found a new meaning for the term “runner’s high.” Athletes have broken free and are still breaking free from the past stigmas that have hindered the widespread use of cannabis in the United States.

This also comes with more scrutiny, as these athletes are often criticized for promoting the drug. This scrutiny gets more intense after a loss. Most speculations claim that the banned drug is the leading cause of the L.


Modifying Runner’s High

Fitness enthusiasts are now fond of the habit of including cannabis with workout routines. Some of these gym nuts claim it helps them find more pleasure in their routines. Some strains of cannabis provide users with more vigor and focus, which comes in handy for newcomers and expert fitness enthusiasts. Most of the available information on the connections between cannabis and physical exercise has been provided by unverified sources. These anecdotal claims have not been investigated, hence it is too early to conclude on the unique relationship between these two factors.


The UC “SPACE” Study

In this new study, the latest low-key terrific way of getting high while working out was studied scientifically for the first time. The study’s lead investigator, Laural Gibson, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Psychology Department at Colorado University, said that the SPACE study is the only human study done to investigate the positive and negative impact of legal market cannabis on physical exercise.

Laurel Gibson has only a year left to complete her Ph.D. program, as she is expected to receive her doctorate by 2023. She stated at the start of her SPACE study that all volunteers in the project would have to have prior cannabis use experience, and she also promised to compensate all participants who shared how cannabis products affected their workouts.

The program selects men between the ages of 21 and 40 and women who are at least 21 years old but no more than 50. These participants must be able to use cannabis and exercise simultaneously to ensure accurate results in this study.

The project will be in three phases. First, the volunteers will be required to fill out a survey report, after which they will spend some time on the treadmill in the presence of the research staff. In the second and third phases, the volunteers will be asked to fill out more questionnaires and spend more time on the treadmill. Gibson stated that the volunteers would stay longer than 30 minutes on the treadmill. She also disclosed that each of the volunteers would use the preferred cannabis product at home before coming onto the college campus. She explained that this has to be done at home because cannabis is a federally prohibited substance, so it is contraband on the college campus premises.

The study has already started, and many anticipate that the results will be enough to convince many of the positive impacts of cannabis, which far outweigh its negatives.


Probing Further

Gibson says she wants to understand the motivation behind the increasing number of athletes (experts and amateurs) who are including marijuana in their diets.

Heather Mashoodi, an ultramarathoner and SPACE project volunteer stated that she frequently runs 100 miles per week during training. While speaking to CU’s Boulder Today, she said that audiobooks, podcasts, and nature keep her motivated each day. Wherever she loses motivation, she eats a marijuana-infused gummy. She limits herself to half a gummy.

Athletes like Mashoodi are the main reason why the SPACE study was started. The project hopes to explore how these athletes can manage the effects of cannabis while working out. It plans to investigate how the drug helps in recovery, boosts an athlete’s motivation, and makes workout routines more fun.

In addition to all these, Gibson plans to investigate further a previous survey conducted by Professor Angela Bryan. This survey studied the habits of hundreds of cannabis consumers in five states across the country. In the survey report, Professor Bryan wrote that about 80% of the participants remarked that they used cannabis minutes before or after exercising. Regarding reasons for use, 52% said it increased their motivation to exercise, 70% indicated that it heightened the fun of working out, and 78% noted that it helped with their recovery process.



New studies like the SPACE project will help to prove that the standing stoner stereotype is wrong. With more studies like this, as well as the advocacy of legendary athletes, the myth that stoners are sloths or goof-offs when it’s time to achieve their goals will be a thing of the past. If high-performing stars like Kevin Durant and Ricky Williams consistently perform at the highest level despite their affiliations with cannabis, then the challenging stigmas will significantly lessen.

Till the study is fully completed and a comprehensive report released, we all would have to make do with the personal reviews from athletes like Stephen Jackson and Clifford Robinson, both of whom have told the world about the great results that followed after consuming cannabis before their games. They also laid much emphasis on the fact that the drug did not give them an unnatural edge over the competition.









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