A new CU study on cannabis and exercise
by Gabrielle Caravetta
Credit: Lisa Marshall, colorado.edu
Heather Mashoodi is an ultramarathoner and is among the many athletes who use cannabis during their workouts. When she reaches the halfway point of her run she pops an edible into her mouth.
“When I run for a really long time, this thing naturally kicks in and it makes the colors brighter and makes my thoughts clearer and makes me more emotionally in tune,” says Mashoodi, 31.
“When I use cannabis and run, I get to feel that at a little less intense mileage.” During peak training, she will cover over 100 miles in a week’s time.
Laurel Gibson is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder where she will be investigating the relationship between cannabis and exercise. It is called the SPACE study (Study on Physical Activity and Cannabis Effects).
More than 50 paid adult volunteers who already incorporate cannabis into their workouts will take part in this three-session study. In session 1, researchers will measure heart rate, take some baseline fitness measurements and have participants fill out a questionnaire. Participants will then be assigned a local dispensary where they will pick up their CBD-dominant or THC-dominant strain.
They will return for workout sessions both sober and high. During each session, they will spend 30 minutes running on the treadmill and answer questions every 10 minutes to evaluate the intensity of their workout, perception of time, their thoughts, and the level of pain they are experiencing.
“Cannabis is often associated with a decrease in motivation— that stereotype of couch-lock and laziness,” said Gibson. “But at the same time, we are seeing an increasing number of anecdotal reports of people using it in combination with everything from golfing and yoga to snowboarding and running.”
By comparing sober sessions to high sessions Gibson and her colleagues hope to make sense of this perplexing contradiction in cannabis research.
Mashoodi is one of the first to sign up for the study and said she’s skeptical about cannabis enhancing her performance, but it is evident that cannabis does ease her joint pain.