Most Americans don’t get anywhere near enough exercise — for all kinds of reasons. Some researchers have wondered whether a rise in the use of marijuana is one of them.
“The stereotype is the kid on the couch eating Doritos, not being physically active,” says Angela Bryan, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. As marijuana is becoming legalized in more states across the country, “if that was the impact of cannabis on physical activity, that [would be] a big problem.”
There isn’t much scientific literature on the relationship between cannabis and exercise. But some research suggests that people who use marijuana actually tend to have lower body mass indexes and risks for obesity than people who don’t use it, and a 2015 review article from Bryan’s lab found that cannabis is linked to greater feelings of motivation and enjoyment about exercise, poletentially by activating brain pathways involved in feelings of reward and pain response.