Science says cannabis and exercise motivation is irrelevant

Cannabis usage before and/or after exercise is an increasingly common habit. Using cannabis for exercise is primarily aimed at boosting exercise pleasure, motivation, and performance whilst facilitating post-exercise recovery.

However, whether these beliefs reflect the true impact of cannabis on these aspects of exercise is unknown.

This study has thus examined the effects of cannabis’ main psychoactive ingredient, namely Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on (i) mouse wheel-running preference and performance and (ii) running motivation and seeking behaviour.

Hurel I, Muguruza C, Redon B, Marsicano G, Chaouloff F. Cannabis and exercise: Effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on preference and motivation for wheel-running in mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 8;105:110117. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2020.110117. Epub 2020 Sep 22. PMID: 32971218.

Although craving-like behaviour, as indexed by a cue-induced reinstatement of running seeking, was found to depend on CB1 receptors, THC again proved ineffective. Neither running motivation nor running seeking were affected when CB1 receptors were further stimulated by increasing the levels of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol.

These results, which suggest that the drive for running is insensitive to the acute stimulation of CB1 receptors, raise the hypothesis that cannabis is devoid of effect on exercise motivation.

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