Cannabis use, sedentary behavior, and physical activity in a nationally representative sample of US adults

Harm Reduct J. 2021 Apr 29;18(1):48. doi: 10.1186/s12954-021-00496-2.


Background: Prior research examining the relationship between cannabis use, sedentary behavior, and physical activity has generated conflicting findings, potentially due to biases in the self-reported measures used to assess physical activity. This study aimed to more precisely explore the relationship between cannabis use and sedentary behavior/physical activity using objective measures.

Methods: Data were obtained from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A total of 2,092 participants (ages 20-59; 48.8% female) had accelerometer-measured sedentary behavior, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Participants were classified as light, moderate, frequent, or non-current cannabis users depending on how often they used cannabis in the previous 30 days. Multivariable linear regression estimated minutes in sedentary behavior/physical activity by cannabis use status. Logistic regression modeled self-reported moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in relation to current cannabis use.

Results: Fully adjusted regression models indicated that current cannabis users' accelerometer-measured sedentary behavior did not significantly differ from non-current users. Frequent cannabis users engaged in more physical activity than non-current users. Light cannabis users had greater odds of self-reporting physical activity compared to non-current users.

Conclusions: This study is the first to evaluate the relationship between cannabis use and accelerometer-measured sedentary behavior and physical activity. Such objective measures should be used in other cohorts to replicate our findings that cannabis use is associated with greater physical activity and not associated with sedentary behavior in order to fully assess the potential public health impact of increases in cannabis use.

Keywords: Accelerometry; Behavioral epidemiology; Cannabis; Physical activity; Sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Cannabis*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Young Adult