Scientists from Iran have studied the effects of exercising and how it affects the brain. So much so, that the researchers wanted to determine whether or not someone who works out would be less likely to want to use drugs or alcohol (nicotine, morphine, alcohol, and amphetamines).
For the experiment, the researchers used rat subjects. The rats exercised for 90 minutes each day on a treadmill, rested for 30 minutes, and then took drugs.
Scientists were trying to prove that exercise makes individuals less likely to desire mind-altering substances.
It was discovered that after working out, rats did in fact desire these substances less than rats that did not work out.
While this study may be a starting point for potential rehab programs, research has been taking place for more than 20 years on these principles. Yet, the reason why an exercised body wants drugs less intensely is unknown to experts.
Potential theories include using exercise as a distraction from daily activities or using it as a stress reliever which may cause the mind some relaxation and decrease the chances of turning to drugs.
The most shocking potential theory for the comparison between working out and drug use is that the two activities may hold various similarities. Many people explain feelings of irritability after missing a workout — very similar symptoms to that of missing a drug fix. In the end, exercising may be a replacement for drug use, even though the behaviors are shockingly similar mentally — the physical benefits are largely different.
Some researchers caution the notion that the activities mimic each other so closely. Regardless, additional research needs to be conducted about the reason why exercise may be a viable substitute for drug use.