Alcohol abuse can cause cerebral damage, impaired cognition, poor autonomic nervous control, impaired cardiovascular health, increased levels of stress and anxiety, depression symptoms, and poor quality of life. Some people experiencing these issues may turn to more alcohol to combat the symptoms, but there is a better option: exercise! A study was conducted where a chronic alcohol abuser participated in a 3 month running program and experienced better running performance, cardiovascular function, cerebral oxygenation and cognitive function enhancement, impulse control, and autonomic nervous control. With the increase in impulse control, not only did the aerobic exercise reverse the detrimental physical effects of the alcohol toxicity, but it also made the subject more likely to continue alcohol abstinence. Similar results have been found with methamphetamine abusers.

Exercise is a broad term, so there is a lot of confusion about what will actually get people the results they want. It’s hard to be motivated if you don’t know that what you’re doing will get you results, so I’ll break down what will get you the most bang for your buck. Intensity matters! While benefits of moderate exercise (brisk walking, washing windows, vacuuming, mopping, mowing lawn, bicycling 10-12 mph, bad minton, and tennis) are significant, vigorous exercise (hiking, jogging, shoveling, carrying heavy loads, bicycling 14-16 mph, basketball, and soccer) has been shown to be superior for relief from stress, pain, depressive symptoms, and sleep issues. While intense exercise is more difficult, it can provide greater benefits in a shorter amount of time. Essentially, the higher you can get your heart rate, the better. Strangely, with resistance training, anxiety relief is better at lower intensities (lighter weights). Still, for maximum benefits of the exercises, do as many reps as possible. For more specific information on dosage and intensity, visit http://www.acsm.org/.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800586/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29266758

The influences of diet and exercise on mental health through hormesis

by Gomez-Pinilla, Fernando

Ageing Research Reviews, 2007, Volume 7, Issue 1

The influences of diet and exercise on mental health through hormesis

by Gomez-Pinilla, Fernando

Ageing Research Reviews, 2007, Volume 7, Issue 1

with reduced stress, increased mental health…

by Gerber, Markus; Brand, Serge; Herrmann, Christian; More…

Physiology & Behavior, 2014, Volume 135

Journal Article: Full Text Online

Deslandes A, Moraes H, Ferreira C, Veiga H, Silveira H, Mouta R, Pompeu F, A, M, S, Coutinho E, S, F, Laks J, Exercise and Mental Health: Many Reasons to Move. Neuropsychobiology 2009;59:191-198

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