Exercise may help prevent brain damage caused by alcohol
Aerobic exercise can help former heavy drinkers to reverse the damage alcohol has done to the brain, researchers say.
The results of the study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder indicated that regular aerobic exercise like walking, running or bicycling is associated with less damage to the brain”s “white matter” among heavy alcohol users.
White matter, along with gray matter, are the organ”s two major physical components. White matter is composed of bundles of nerve cells that act as transmission lines to facilitate communication between various parts of the brain, said lead study author Hollis Karoly, a doctoral student in CU-Boulder”s psychology and neuroscience department.
“We found that for people who drink a lot and exercise a lot, there was not a strong relationship between alcohol and white matter,” said Karoly. “But for people who drink a lot and don”t exercise, our study showed the integrity of white matter is compromised in several areas of the brain. It basically means white matter is not moving messages between areas of the brain as efficiently as normal.”
In the study, 60 participants with similar brain and clinical data underwent MRI scans of their brains.
All reported their level of alcohol consumption, loss of control over drinking, and aerobic exercise participation.
The researchers then examined relationships among exercise, alcohol, and the impact it had on areas of the brain.
The study found that the relationship between alcohol consumption and white matter depends upon how much people exercise, Karoly said.