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Marijuana and Running Effects

By Kip Doyle ; Updated August 14, 2017

Marijuana is a drug that is illegal in the United States for general use, although it widely used medically and is being decriminalized in some regions. How does marijuana use effect running? Common sense would tell us negatively, since smoking in general has adverse effects on the cardiovascular and breathing abilities crucial running.

Negative Effects

Marijuana raises the heart rate, which already occurs during running and can make the experience more difficult. Anyone with heart problems who smokes marijuana and runs faces greater risk of heart attack. Marijuana, like tobacco, can lead to respiratory problems that make breathing difficult. Proper breathing is an important part of running endurance. Marijuana can also be an irritant, contributing to sore throats, runny noses and coughing, which make running difficult. Marijuana can also inhibit perception and coordination, which are crucial for runners.

Possible Benefits

Despite the factors listed above, marijuana used legally as medicine can help reduce symptoms that could otherwise make running more difficult. Marijuana has been used to reduce nausea in cancer patients, increase appetites in AIDS patients and reduce muscle spasticity in people with neurological disorders. Marijuana is also associated with decreasing physical stress and pain, which can both occur due to running.


The easiest way to avoid the effects of marijuana on running is to not use it. If you have medical permission to use marijuana but it is hurting your breathing ability, consider consuming the marijuana in a way other than smoking it, like in food or in a THC pill.


Since it is illegal in most non-medical situations, using marijuana presents the risk of arrest and even imprisonment.


One of the cannabinoids that creates the "high" caused by marijuana is naturally produced within the body through cardiovascular activity, according to a study by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California-Irvine. This, researchers suggest, could show a parallel between the "buzz" of marijuana and the so-called "runner's high," or euphoric feeling brought on by running.

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