Researchers appear to be getting a workout assessing the value of exercise. One study, led by UVA psychiatry professor Wendy Lynch, used laboratory rats to examine the relationship between exercise and cocaine addiction. Rats that had developed an addiction to the drug went through a 14-day abstinence period; some rats were given access to an exercise wheel while others were put in a box with the wheel locked. The rats that were able to exercise were less inclined to seek cocaine afterward, likely a result of brain-chemistry changes caused by the increased physical activity.
“These data suggest that exercise … may reduce cocaine relapse vulnerability,” Lynch says, “and that exercise should be examined as a potential treatment for cocaine relapse either alone, or perhaps as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy.”
UVA researchers conducted another study that concluded “fractionized” exercise—three sessions done in short bursts of 10 minutes spaced equally through the day—was more effective than a single 30-minute morning session in reducing blood pressure during the afternoon and early evening hours in healthy adults. The research team, which was led by Arthur Weltman, director of the General Clinic Research Center exercise physiology laboratory and included University faculty member Judy Weltman and former UVA exercise physiologist Glenn Gaesser, found that fractionized exercise is an attractive alternative for busy folks unable to squeeze in lengthier workout sessions.