According to a recent study, regular aerobic exercise can decrease stress-induced cocaine-seeking behaviour. “Cocaine addiction is often characterised by cycles of recovery and relapse, with stress and negative emotions, often caused by withdrawal itself, among the major causes of relapse,” said Thanos, a senior research scientist in the UB Research Institute on Addictions and Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Using animal models, Thanos found that regular aerobic exercise (one hour on a treadmill, five times a week) decreased stress-induced cocaine-seeking behaviour. Exercise also altered behavioural and physiological responses to stress. Individuals who are addicted to cocaine have altered neural, behavioural and physiological responses to stress. Recent research by Thanos demonstrated how exercise can alter the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is linked to the rewarding and reinforcing properties of drugs such as cocaine.
In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce stress hormones and elevate mood, which could assist in alleviating anxiety and negative emotions associated with withdrawal,” reported the study published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research. Studies already have shown that aerobic exercise (also known as “cardio”) is an effective strategy against many physical health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, along with certain mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
“Our results suggest that regular aerobic exercise could be a useful strategy for relapse prevention, as part of a comprehensive treatment program for recovering cocaine abusers. Further research is necessary to see if these results also hold true for other addictive drugs,” Thanos said.
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