The stereotype of a cannabis smoker is one of a laid back, lackadaisical, sloth-like individual who is trapped in a lethargic stupor, with exercise far from their mind.
But a new study from researchers at the University of Miami claims this is an unfair representation of the one in six people who use the class B drug.
Data from more than 20,000 Americans shows that marijuana users have comparable exercise levels to non-users.
The American researchers admit their findings fly in the face of previous research on the topic, which almost universally show the sedentary stoner stereotype to be true.
Researchers used data from two waves of a long-running study in America which occurred between 2008 and 2009, and 2018 and 2020.
Participants ranged in age from 24 to 42 during this period and they were quizzed on a host of topics, including exercise levels and drug use.
Researchers looked at how much exercise they had done in the last seven days, including cycling, team sports, running, golf and walking.
This was then compared to self-reported levels of cannabis use in the last month. Participants were graded as a non-user, light user, moderate user or heavy user depending on their answers.
Statistical analysis found no significant connection between marijuana and exercise levels, indicating the habit has no bearing on a person’s activity levels.
The researchers say this is ‘counter to conventional wisdom that marijuana users are less likely to be active’.
The researchers from the University of Miami actually found cannabis users may be more active than non-smokers, even among heavy users who admitted to smoking cannabis at least three times a week.
While the data suggests a weak link between cannabis use and being more active, the scientists caution against reading too much into this as it is most likely due to ‘strong associations than causal inferences per se’.
The researchers say their findings should inform discussions about the legalisation of cannabis as it discredits the stereotype that cannabis leads to laziness.
‘Behavioral health researchers, government officials, policymakers, and public health advocates should consider these rigorous and objective findings and support further research on the topic as they debate the merits of liberalization of marijuana laws at the state and federal levels,’ they write.
‘In particular, claims that marijuana legalization will lead individuals to become more sedentary, less active, and therefore less healthy are not supported by our empirical findings.
‘However, it is difficult to draw clear policy implications until further research has been conducted.’