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Vol. LX, No. 15
July 25, 2008
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NIDA Studies Exercise as Addiction Prevention Tool

  Organizers of the recent NIDA meeting on exercise and substance abuse included (from l) Drs. Augie Diana, Aleta Meyer and Marsha Lopez.  
  Organizers of the recent NIDA meeting on exercise and substance abuse included (from l) Drs. Augie Diana, Aleta Meyer and Marsha Lopez.  

It is well known that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but can it prevent addiction too? The National Institute on Drug Abuse held a conference in June to explore the possible role for physical activity in substance abuse prevention. As part of this effort, NIDA announced a $4 million grant initiative to spur further research in this emerging area.

More than 100 scientists from around the country gathered for the 2-day conference to: share the state of the science in epidemiology, basic science and intervention research focused on physical activity as a strategy to prevent substance abuse; facilitate the development and testing of new paradigms for prevention; and promote future research in these areas.

“Exercise has been shown to be beneficial in so many areas of physical and mental health,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, NIDA director. “This cross-disciplinary meeting was designed to get scientists thinking creatively about its potential role in substance abuse prevention.”

Presentations targeted the importance of the social context in which physical activity occurs, including school and the natural environment, as well as the relationship of physical activity to physical disorders (obesity), social reward structures (motivation), cognition (attention, impulse control and other motor skills) and mood disorders (depression, stress), all of which may play a role in substance abuse. To facilitate research on the role of exercise, attendees learned about and saw demonstrations of tools that assess physiological responses to exercise and physical activity.

On the second day of the meeting, Sally Squires, the reporter of the Washington Post’s Lean Plate Club, shared insights and feedback from her column on what the public wants to know about physical activity and health. NIHRecord Icon

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