ExerciseMarijuana (Cannabinoids)

Effects of aerobic exercise on cannabis craving

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, studied non-treatment seeking cannabis-dependent adults.

First, the details.

  • 12 sedentary or minimally active non-treatment seeking cannabis-dependent adults attended 10 supervised 30-minute treadmill exercise sessions to achieve 60% to 70% of heart rate reserve over 2 weeks.
    • Exercise physiologists under medical oversight conducted exercise sessions.
  • Each participant met the criteria for primary cannabis dependence using the Substance Abuse module of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID).
  • Self-reported drug use was assessed for 1-week before, during, and 2-weeks after the study.
  • Participants viewed visual cannabis cues before and after exercise in conjunction with assessment of subjective cannabis craving using the Marijuana Craving Questionnaire (MCQ-SF).

And, the results.

  • Daily cannabis use during the run-in period was 6 joints per day.
    • Average cannabis use levels during the exercise period was 3 joints per day — significantly different from run-in.
    • During follow-up, average use was 4 joints per day — significantly different from run-in.
  • Average craving scores for pre- and post-exercise craving assessments were significant for reduced for compulsivity, emotionality, expectancy, and purposefulness.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded that more research is needed to “test the efficacy of prescribed moderate aerobic exercise as a component of cannabis dependence treatment.”

Currently, treatment of cannabis dependence relies on behavioral approaches plus lifestyle change such as exercise. They believe, “The neurobiological mechanisms that account for these beneficial effects on cannabis use may lead to understanding of the physical and emotional underpinnings of cannabis dependence and, ultimately, recovery from this disorder.”

3/17/11 21:51 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.