Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Brain Study Reveals Benefits Of Exercise On Quitting Smoking

Date:
February 16, 2009
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Research reveals for the first time, that changes in brain activity, triggered by physical exercise, may help reduce cigarette cravings. The study shows how exercise changes the way the brain processes information among smokers, thereby reducing their cravings for nicotine. For the first time, researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to investigate how the brain processes images of cigarettes after exercise.

Research from the University of Exeter reveals for the first time, that changes in brain activity, triggered by physical exercise, may help reduce cigarette cravings. Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study shows how exercise changes the way the brain processes information among smokers, thereby reducing their cravings for nicotine. For the first time, researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate how the brain processes images of cigarettes after exercise.

The study adds weight to a growing body of evidence that exercise can help manage addiction to nicotine and other substances. It backs up previous studies, which have shown that just one short burst of moderate exercise can significantly reduce smokers' nicotine cravings.

Ten regular smokers were asked to cycle at a moderate pace for ten minutes, after 15 hours of abstinence from nicotine. They were then given an fMRI scan while they viewed a series of 60 images. Some visuals featured cigarettes and would normally induce cravings in a smoker. On a second occasion, the same group was given an fMRI scan and shown the same series of images without having undertaken exercise. They were also asked to report on their cravings for nicotine during both phases of the study.

The brain images captured by the fMRI show a difference between the two conditions. After no exercise the smokers showed heightened activity in response to the images in areas of the brain associated with reward-processing and visual attention. After exercise the same areas of activation were not observed, which reflected a kind of 'default mode' in the brain. The smokers also reported lower cravings for cigarettes after exercise compared with when they had been inactive.

The researchers do not know exactly what caused the difference in brain activity following exercise. One suggestion is that completing exercise raises mood (possibly through increases in dopamine) which reduces the salience or importance of wanting a cigarette. Another possibility is that exercise causes a shift in blood flow to areas of the brain less involved in anticipation of reward and pleasure generated by smoking images.

Previous research by the University of Exeter has suggested that exercise can reduce nicotine cravings. Results from a series of studies show that smokers report reduced cigarette cravings after exercising. This study showed that exercise can reduce cravings when smokers are faced with images that have been previously shown to cause lapses in smokers trying to quit. This is the first time that anyone has investigated brain activity during this process.

Kate Janse Van Rensburg, a PhD student at the University of Exeter, lead author on the paper, said: "Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise can help people give up smoking. This strengthens the argument that moderate exercise could be a viable alternative to many of the pharmaceutical products, such as nicotine patches, for people who want to give up smoking. A ten or fifteen minute walk, jog or cycle when times get tough could help a smoker kick the habit. There are of course many other benefits from a more active lifestyle including better fitness, weight loss and improved mood."

Kate Janse Van Rensburg carried out this study as part of her PhD with the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences and School of Psychology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Janse Van Rensburg et al. Acute exercise modulates cigarette cravings and brain activation in response to smoking-related images: an fMRI study. Psychopharmacology, 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s00213-008-1405-3

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "First Brain Study Reveals Benefits Of Exercise On Quitting Smoking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2009, February 16). First Brain Study Reveals Benefits Of Exercise On Quitting Smoking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm
University of Exeter. "First Brain Study Reveals Benefits Of Exercise On Quitting Smoking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins