Of course exercise is good for your heart, your waistline and your bones, but can exercise also help prevent addiction to alcohol or drugs? There are some interesting points of views that say physical activity might spur changes in the brain chemistry that might aid in stopping addictions. The U.S. government is just now beginning to do hard research to prove these theories.
The studies will go beyond the phenomenon of what is called the ‘runners high’, but instead, will look into how regular physical activities, like bicycling, dancing, swimming, and martial art, could affect mood, performance in school and at work, and even the brains ‘reward’ system, when substance abuse hijacks the normal functions of the brain.
Dr. Nora Volkow, who is the chief of The National Institute on Drug Abuse institution, attention was caught when a study found teens and youngsters, who reported daily exercise, were half as likely to smoke as their sedentary counterparts, and almost 40% less likely to use marijuana. Volkow, who has her own 6 mile a day run and from her own scientific experiments, knows that the brain prefers physical activities. Neurochemicals are stimulated by exercise and a sense of pleasure is felt throughout the body.
She noted that children already have an innate sense to move, but that children are becoming a more sedentary group, as obesity in children is on the rise. So, as youngsters approach their adolescence, running and jumping around in the yard or at the park has turned into a chore, which as we know, most adolescence and teens hate to do. The sedentary teens then turn into sedentary adults who seek getting pleasure from other substances rather than from regular physical activities.
Overcoming an addiction by the act of physical activities is still a relatively new concept, but the NIDA has increased their attention to continuing their research and are beginning to advocate regular physical activity can preclude the onset of not only physical diseases and conditions, but mental ones as well. As Dr. Daniel M. Landers, head of the Department of Kinesiology at Arizona State University, found evidence to support the claim that exercise is related to a positive mental health, such as the relief in symptoms of anxiety and depression.