Scientists from Loughborough University found that exercise has been found to significantly reduce alcohol cravings in university students.
The research is published in Addictive Behaviors and was conducted by Aleksandra Gawor et al.
In the study, the team recruited 60 male and female participants, aged 18 to 25 years old, from the British Midlands.
The group took part in a short discussion where members were asked to think about and describe their favorite drinks and drinking habits. They were also shown a video about cocktail making.
They were then split into three groups:
The active intervention condition included participation in a five-minute exercise routine consisting of squats, mountain climbers, push-ups, jumping jacks, heel kicks, and sit-ups. Each exercise was performed for 45 seconds in a typical continuous circuit formation.
The distraction (active control) condition involved sitting and coloring in a picture book for five minutes.
The passive control condition involved sitting silently doing nothing in the laboratory for five minutes, with only the research assistant present.
Following the groups, all the students completed a series of questionnaires about drinking, cravings, and their mood.
The team found that those in the exercise group had significantly reduced alcohol cravings when compared with those in the control group.
They also found that positive mood increased, and anxiety and negative mood decreased for the exercisers.
The coloring group did not significantly reduce craving. However, they did report increased mood and reduced anxiety.
The participants also completed an online program that provided information and education on alcohol abuse.
However, the team found that this only worsened negative mood and anxiety and did not change alcohol cravings.
The team says alcohol abuse is associated with chronic disabling diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes, and has high human and economic costs.
One of the vital contributors to the onset and maintenance of alcohol abuse is craving.
The current study found that a short exercise circuit helps reduce alcohol craving and improves mood.
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