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Exercise and Avoid Bad Habits

Getting in shape will trim your waistline, tone your thighs, give you strong bones, get your heart pumping and may even prevent alcoholism or drug abuse.

Wait, huh?

Yep, that’s right. New research shows physical activity may help trigger changes in the brain that prevent addiction. We’re not talking Olympic marathons here. Researchers say people who engage in regular physical activity—dancing, jogging, swimming, martial arts, bicycling—may reap the benefits of improved mood and academic performance. The real question, however, is how exercise affects the “reward systems” in the brain that can be compromised by substance abuse.

The first possible proof in a series of studies came from research that proved children and teenagers who exercised daily were half as prone to picking up a smoking habit as their peers who were sedentary, and 40% less likely to try marijuana.

The research is still too inconclusive to know whether or not physical activity can prevent substance abuse, but the primary results are encouraging.

One thing’s for sure: A little heart-pumping activity isn’t hurting your chances of quitting or picking up a bad habit. So, get out there and get moving!

Have a story to share? We want to hear how exercise has kept you from bad habits! [MSNBC]

Posted: 6/10/08