When a person is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, following a regular exercise routine is essential. Yet the power of exercising regularly to help maintain sobriety is often underestimated. Exercise has a positive effect physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Here are eight of the numerous benefits of regular exercise for someone in addiction recovery.
Helps Heal the Body
Regular exercise helps your body and brain heal from the damage caused by addiction. Exercising improves cardiovascular health, lessening the risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol. It reduces the risk of having a stroke, developing type II diabetes or arthritis, and reduces the risk of falls. Exercise strengthens your immune system and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease in your later years. Regular exercise increases the number of nerve connections produced in the brain, helping it heal from the damage of addiction.
Improves Overall Mental Health
When a person exercises, chemicals called endorphins are released. The endorphins interact with receptors in the brain, reducing feelings of pain, providing an emotional lift, and promoting an overall sense of well-being and optimism. The person who exercises feels happier and more relaxed. Their mental state is positive, and their mood is improved. Their feelings of depression and anxiety lessen. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising moderately every day for 30 minutes will provide a more energized outlook on life.
Relieves and Reduces Stress
Exercise alleviates both psychological and physical stress. Tension builds in our bodies throughout the day during everyday interactions at home or work, while driving, playing video games, and watching television. It can come from poor posture, worrying thoughts, life changes, or feeling pressured. Being able to cope with stress is critical to maintaining sobriety. Exercising helps. When you focus on moving your body, you use both emotional and physical energy in a structured, positive way. Exercise helps regulate the stress response, minimizing stress when it is not needed.
When you exercise, oxygen levels increase as blood is pushed more aggressively through the heart, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. The increased oxygen and improved circulation boost overall energy, making daily activities easier to perform.
Meditation in Motion
Exercise has been described as meditation in motion. When a person concentrates on exercise, they often forget the worries and irritations of the day. They can refocus their thoughts on what they are doing and their well-being. After their workout, they feel optimistic and rejuvenated. Their mind is clear, and they have a better perspective on the things that cause worry.
Many people have difficulty sleeping, especially in the early stages of recovery. Exercising regularly can help improve sleep quality and promote a more restful, deeper sleep. When a person lacks sleep, they can become irritated and fatigued quickly, which can increase their cravings for alcohol or drugs. Exercise not only helps a person sleep better, but it also helps the body regulate its natural sleep cycle.
Provides Structure and Routine
Following a healthy routine provides a structure to the day, leaving less time to think about drugs or alcohol. Telling someone about your workout plan or joining an exercise class encourages you to stick to your exercise routine and holds you accountable to someone else. Structure your exercise time to fill in times of day where your cravings are stronger or when you face more temptations. For example, if you used to go out after work for a drink, use that time to go to the gym. By filling in your usual times of weakness with exercise, it is easier to maintain your sobriety.
Improves Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
Active addiction causes a person to lose all sense of a healthy self. Regular exercise improves a person’s self-confidence, raises self-esteem and self-worth, and produces a more positive self-image. It does not matter what the exercise is or how well you perform it. The simple act of exercising produces positive results. It has to do with feelings of pride and accomplishment as you reach your goals. We feel good about ourselves when we take good care of our bodies.
Are You Struggling With Addiction?
Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is no easy task. It requires a lot of hard work, patience, determination, and trust in the recovery process. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use addiction, getting the right help is critical. At Anabranch Recovery Center in Terre Haute, IN, our professionals will help you travel the path to recovery. Now is the time to take the first step.