Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 5, 2023

Marijuana use continues to increase in popularity among both medical and recreational users. This psychoactive plant has sedative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, and anticonvulsant effects on users, which is the reason for its increased use in recent years. Despite this, most workplaces don’t allow their employees to consume cannabis, so they test for the byproducts that come from cannabis use – THC metabolites. Therefore, chronic users are tempted to find the best method for detoxification in order to pass their mandatory drug test, and exercising is often considered a possible method for detoxing.

If you want to find out more about the science behind exercise and weed, and whether you’ll test positive on your next mandatory drug screening, you’re at the right place. This article will focus on the essential information when it comes to getting rid of the cannabinoid THC and its metabolites from your system. You’ll find out whether exercising can help you detox from THC faster, and what other methods are used to accelerate the process. However, keep in mind that we are not recommending cheating on drug tests especially if it’s illegal in your state/country as it can have legal repercussions. This article is purely for informational purposes only.

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

The amount of time that cannabis stays in your system depends on a few factors:

  • The amount of THC you’ve consumed (the detection time depends on how much weed you consume);
  • How often you use cannabis (chronic users will need a longer time to detox compared to occasional or first-time users);
  • Your specific body mass index (BMI) and physical activity (the higher the percentage of body fat, the longer it will take for your body to detox since cannabinoids bind to body fat).

Common Cannabis Drug Tests and Their Detection Times

After you’ve consumed weed, the main cannabinoids THC and CBD break down into over 80 metabolites inside the liver. Out of those, the metabolites that show up on drug tests are 11-OH-THC (the main active metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol) and THC-COOH (the second metabolite of THC). Depending on the amount of time they stay in the body, they can be detected by various drug tests.

Before we get into whether exercising can help detoxify THC, we’ll go over the most common drug testing methods that detect the presence of cannabis metabolites:

  • Urinalysis (moderate marijuana users can expect a positive result from their urine sample between 5-7 day after cannabis use, while chronic users can have a positive urine drug test for up to a month);
  • Blood test (weed metabolites can be detected in the blood up to a week after cannabis use);
  • Saliva test (the THC metabolites in the saliva have a detection window of up to 72 hours after cannabis use);
  • Hair test (the hair follicle test has the highest detection window which enables THC metabolites to be detected for up to 3 months).

THC and Exercise

There are a lot of anecdotal claims when it comes to detoxing from cannabis and most of them aren’t backed up by science. So, let’s take a look at how exercise affects THC metabolites in the body.                                   

While some sources claim that exercise may help pass your mandatory drug test, one 2013 study showed that cardio may have the opposite effect when trying to get THC out of the body. The study followed 14 regular cannabis users while they spent 35 minutes on a stationary bike to promote fat burning, and measured the levels of THC after their workout. 

The results of that study showed that not only did the levels of THC not decrease, but they actually got even higher compared to what they were before the exercise. Therefore, exercise released dormant THC metabolites from the fat cells in the body and they flooded the participants’ systems with THC. However, due to a lack of studies, it’s unclear whether this will affect a urine test. 

Will Exercise Help You Detox Before a Cannabis Drug Test?

A 2014 study published in the journal Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology also tested the connection between exercise and detoxing from THC. Six regular cannabis users did a moderate-intensity workout for 45 minutes followed by a 24-hour fast, after which blood and urine samples of the participants were tested.

The study didn’t notice major differences between the THC levels in the blood or urine after the exercise and fast and concluded that neither causes changes to THC concentrations that may affect drug test results. However, the study was done on people with lower levels of fat in their body and a conclusion can’t be drawn for people with higher body fat percentages.

While fasting and exercising will burn fat, it’s not certain that they will help you pass a drug test in the next few days, but can help you prepare for a drug test in the future, and promote overall health and wellness.

What Else Do People Use to Pass Their Drug Test?

Cannabis users who have a scheduled workplace drug testing are often searching for new methods to pass their tests. Some of them turn to niacin pills as a way to detox from weed and others go for detox drinks. To find out how long you need to detox with niacin, follow the guide we’ve provided for you.

Some even use diuretics to speed up the detox by frequent urination, although this method can dilute the concentration of THC in their urine sample and arouse suspicion. To mask the dilution, a lot of users consume herbal supplements with creatinine and vitamin B-12. 

When it comes to detoxing your body from THC metabolites, there’s no one-method-fits-all. Some methods may prove to be effective for a group of cannabis users, while others won’t find them as beneficial. The most certain method is always the natural detox which requires allowing the metabolites to flush from the body naturally for as long as they need.

Final Thoughts on Exercise and Eliminating THC Metabolites

To conclude, exercising won’t do a lot in terms of detoxing your body from THC if you’re a heavy user who has a drug test in the next few days, although it can help you detox your body in the long run if you plan on quitting weed. It will also improve your overall health and quality of life.

For people who smoke marijuana and have regular drug tests at work, it would be better to avoid exercising days prior to your test as exercise can increase the THC metabolites in your body. Make sure you do your research and choose the best detox method for your particular situation. And remember, we are not recommending cheating on drug tests – especially if it’s illegal in your state/country.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.