Exercise doesn’t just keep you healthy and fit. Turns out, it can also help people fight addiction. A study conducted by the University of Buffalo has identified a key mechanism on how aerobic exercise can help impact the brain in ways that may support treatment and prevention strategies for addiction.
Aerobic exercises are a form of cardio exercise that increase the heart rate, breathing and circulation of oxygen through the blood. It can also help people who are suffering from diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. It also offers mental health benefits, such as reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
“Several studies have shown that, in addition to these benefits, aerobic exercise has been effective in preventing the start, increase and relapse of substance use, including alcohol, nicotine, stimulants and opioids,” said Panayotis (Peter) Thanos, the senior author of the study.
Using animal models, Thanos and his team found that daily aerobic exercise altered the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with substance use disorders, and plays an important role in reward, motivation and learning.
The study is published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Other interesting ways to kick addictions
* Nose spray that helps you kick gambling habit
In January, Finnish researchers said they were to launch a study to see if gambling addiction can be treated with a fast-working nasal spray. The spray contains naloxone, an emergency treatment for opiate overdoses (heroin, opium, morphine) that blocks the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure with a central role in addictions.
* Facebook to quit smoking
A clinical trial done by the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) shows that smokers were 2.5 times more likely to quit post a cessation intervention programme delivered entirely on social networking giant Facebook than by other online quit-smoking programmes.