Forget the ‘Lazy Stoner’ Cliche – Older Cannabis Users Exercise More and Are Healthier
All stoners are lazy, spend all day smoking weed on the couch, and eat whatever crumbs they can find in the crevices of their shirts, right? Well, yeah, some people are like that (even without weed), but the truth that we’ve all known for a long time — that the stoner stereotype perpetuated by pop culture is just that, a lazy stereotype — now has some research to back it up.
Instead of endlessly arguing with your mom about whether you can actually get high and be an active member of society, you can slap some good old science in her face (purely figuratively, of course).
Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder have found that people who use cannabis are actually healthier and more active than those who don’t. In your face, everyone who ever said I should smoke less.
According to the study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior, cannabis consumers aged 60 and older are more likely to lead healthier lives than non-users of the same age group.
“Compared to older adult non-users,” says the study, “older adult cannabis users had lower [body mass index] at the beginning of an exercise intervention study, engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention.”
The researchers compared the health and fitness habits of 28 older cannabis users to 136 non-users. All subjects were already part of another four-month study that looks at the relationship between changes in physical activity and cognitive function in older adults.
As part of that study, researchers measured each participant’s body mass index (BMI) and asked them to self-report how often they exercised or engaged in any type of physical activity.
“Adults over the age of 50 are the fastest-growing population of cannabis consumers in the US, with national prevalence rates estimated at up to 9.1% in 2013,” the authors explain. “Given the plethora of negative health consequences associated with inactivity and the protective factors associated with exercise, efforts must be made to understand factors, like cannabis use, that may affect older adults’ engagement in exercise.”
But, although the researchers may have expected older stoners to work out less often than their non-toking peers, the exact opposite proved to be true. Both groups exercised three times a week on average, but the high seniors were more likely to add extra exercise days every week.
They also scored higher on a survey of healthy community activities and had significantly lower BMI measurements than non-users.
“Compared to older adult non-users, older adult cannabis users had lower BMI at the beginning of an exercise intervention study, engaged in more weekly exercise days during the intervention, and were engaging in more exercise-related activities at the conclusion of the intervention,” the study authors wrote.
As with almost any study, this one also has a number of limitations. For one, it relied on self-reported exercise questionnaires. Researchers also didn’t ask how much cannabis the subjects used. And then there’s the small sample size.
Still, researchers believe that “although preliminary, [the results] suggest that it may be easier for older adults who endorse using cannabis to increase and maintain their exercise behavior, potentially because cannabis users have lower body weight than their non-using peers.”
“At minimum, the evidence suggests that cannabis use does not hinder older adults’ ability to engage in physical activity, to participate in a supervised exercise program, or to increase their fitness as a result of physical activity,” the authors conclude.
There you have it. If you still haven’t convinced your grandparents to take up getting high, now you have another reason. If they really care about their health, they pretty much have to become stoners.
And next time somebody tries to lecture you about being a lazy stoner, pull up this article to prove them wrong. (Or just ignore them, it’s way too much work to care about everybody’s opinion anyway.)