As Americans over the age of 50 are turning more and more to medical cannabis, or simply to recreational use, and are the fastest-growing user population, a study adds nuance to the clichés of the lazy stoner and the health risks associated with inactivity.
Compared to older adult non-users, says the University of Colorado at Boulder study, “older adult cannabis users had a lower [body mass index] at the beginning of the study, exercised more during the study, and engaged in more sports-related activities at the end of the study.
In other words, not only were adults over 60 years of age who used cannabis generally in better shape than their peers who abstained, but they also responded better to the four-month study, essentially a clinician-prescribed physical activity regimen.
These results suggest that it may be easier for older adults who acknowledge their cannabis use to increase and maintain their exercise behavior, potentially because cannabis users have lower body weights than their non-users,” the authors of the study wrote. “At a minimum, the evidence suggests that cannabis use does not interfere with older adults’ ability to engage in physical activity, participate in a supervised exercise program, or increase their fitness as a result of physical activity.
The authors caution, however, that these results are preliminary and should be confirmed by further studies. For example, it is unclear why cannabis use is associated with lower BMI scores or why people who use cannabis are more compliant with their training schedules.
Future work,” says the study, “should use methods that allow for targeted exploration of the mechanisms by which cannabis might be associated with exercise, whether through lower body weight, increased pleasure, decreased pain or faster recovery.
All of these potential factors, the team noted, were suggested by pre-existing research. “The discovery of the role of cannabis as a potential facilitator of physical activity in older people may hold promise. “