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  • Writer's pictureDr. J

Cardio to treat... addiction?

As much as you're going to hate me for saying this...

You're doing yourself a huge favor by getting that cardio in

There. I said it.

Ya, I've never been a huge fan of cardio either. And you weirdos out there that do enjoy it... well, you're just special.

(Ok, that's a joke. I'm only envious.)

But for real, I DO enjoy some light cardio activity throughout the week. Mostly in the form where I don't realize I'm actually doing it. Like, a run through the woods, or playing hockey.

Yes, of course cardiovascular exercise has many benefits from many different perspectives. Cardiovascular/endothelial health (go figure), brain and nervous system health (inc BDNF), blood sugar regulation, respiratory function, decreased anxiety, etc.


A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation highlighted some unique benefits of cardiovascular exercise that was previously unknown.

There is a significant increase in production of the hormone FGF21 after a bout of cardio-based exercise. THREE times the production when compared to weightlifting. Actually, there was NO change during strength training. This doesn't mean that there aren't other benefits to strength training, as there are plenty that we could go into. But, it was interesting to note.

FGF21 has many positive metabolic benefits. There are current studies to assess the impacts of a drug form on diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders. But hey, who needs drugs when your body produces it's own, under the right circumstances!

This hormone has also been linked to helping with addiction. Studies have shown improvements with alcohol (50% reduction), and even a decreased sugar craving. That's because this hormone changes neural transmission in a brain region that’s known to play a role in reward functions and addiction. (-Dr. Rhonda Patrick)

How to get your cardio in?

Just start!

  • Walk (briskly)

  • Run

  • Swim

  • Bike

  • Row

Just get your heart rate and respiratory rate up to a manageable rate, and enjoy the benefits!

Start with 10 minutes, and add on from there. No need to exceed 45-60 minutes. And you can vary your intensity!

Ways to make it even MORE enjoyable:

  • Grab a friend

  • Listen to a podcast/audiobook

  • Get out into nature

  • Track your progress


Cardio exercise and strength training affect hormones differently

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