Data Suggests Exercise May Be An Effective Treatment For Addiction

Jun, 2023 - by CMI

A comprehensive analysis of the available literature suggests that physical activity can aid those struggling with addiction to maintain sobriety.

A survey of 43 global studies discovered that people in alcohol and drug treatment who exercised used less. While working as a kinesiologist in a substance misuse treatment facility, lead author Florence Piché "realized that physical health was not being considered at all in these treatments, despite the enormous need," she said. She is a PhD student at the Universities of Quebec in Trois-Rivières and Montreal in Canada, where she investigates the interaction of science and physical exercise.

"We can assume that the mechanisms are multiple and multifactorial," as Piché put it, based on these data. The majority of research looked at the advantages of "moderately intense" exercise, which was defined as an hour three times a week for three months. Almost 3,100 people participated in the studies. Regular exercise was compared to drug experimentation, which included heroin, opiates, cocaine, crack cocaine, methadone, marijuana, alcohol, and methamphetamine. There were no cigarette smokers.

Half of the research evaluated how physical activity reduces drug use. 75% reduced substance use with exercise. Aerobics helped smokers stop in 71% of 14 studies. Exercise lowered depressive symptoms in 12 other investigations. Fitness goals inspire. Also"euphoric." It facilitates everyday planning. These traits can lessen overwhelm and the need for stress medications, according to nutrition and health consultant Connie Diekman, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics president.

According to Diekman, who was not involved in the review, "the overall conclusion was that exercise does appear to have a significant protective effect" in reducing substance use among people battling with substance use disorders. "The caveat," she said, "is that more studies are needed," because smoking was left out and many studies had design flaws, "making a clear cause-and-effect outcome hard to declare."

PLOS ONE published the findings on April 26.