Role of exercise in the treatment of alcohol use disorders.

TitleRole of exercise in the treatment of alcohol use disorders.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsManthou E, Georgakouli K, Fatouros IG, Gianoulakis C, Theodorakis Y, Jamurtas AZ
JournalBiomed Rep
Date Published2016 May

Excessive alcohol use can cause harmful effects on the human body, which are associated with serious health problems, and it can also lead to the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). There is certain evidence that physical exercise positively affects excessive alcohol use and the associated problems by leading to reduced alcohol intake. A literature search was conducted using the databases PubMed, Medline and Web of Science. The search terms used as keywords were: Addiction, abuse, alcohol use disorders, exercise training, β-endorphin, opioids, brain, ethanol and alcohol. The current study presents the studies that reported on the use of exercise in the treatment of AUDs between 1970 and 2015. The potential psychological and physiological mechanisms that contribute to the action of exercise were also reviewed, highlighting the role of β-endorphin and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in AUDs and the possible association among physical activity, the endogenous opioid system and the desire for alcohol. Only 11 studies were identified that refer to the effect of exercise on alcohol consumption and/or the associated outcomes. Six of those studies concluded that exercise may have a positive impact towards alcohol consumption, abstinence rates or the urge to drink. One of those studies also indicated that a bout of exercise affects the endogenous opioids, which may be associated with the urge to drink. Another 3 studies indicated that responses to acute exercise in individuals with AUDs are different compared to those in healthy ones. Generally, despite limited research data and often contradictory results, there is certain early promising evidence for the role of exercise as an adjunctive tool in the treatment of AUDs. Physiological and biochemical parameters that would confirm that exercise is safe for individuals with AUDs should be examined in future studies.

Alternate JournalBiomed Rep
PubMed ID27123244
PubMed Central IDPMC4840498