When you use drugs and alcohol in excess, your body and mind are both impacted. Addiction changes your body chemistry. Once substances are removed, you may be left feeling anxious, depressed and overly-sensitive to some of life’s stressors.
Research clearly shows that exercise helps your body, whether you’re in recovery or not. Improved long term fitness helps with cardio-vascular health and diabetes, lowers the risk of some types of cancers, stimulates the immune system, and can even help alleviate depression symptoms.
Exercise can also increase the amount of new nerve connections in the brain, which helps your brain heal from the harm your drug of choice has been causing. As the body and mind continue to return to a more normal state many people in recovery find exercise also helps restore a normal sleep schedule.
There are several proven benefits to getting regular exercise.
Regular exercise can help reduce stress. Stress can be a particular problem in addiction recovery and can lead to relapse if not properly managed. One of the ways that you can reduce and control stress is through exercise. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins in the brain and improves circulation, both of which help with stress.
Participating in a regular exercise regimen can help you sleep better. Having problems with sleep is not uncommon in recovery. Regular exercise can improve both your quality and quantity of sleep.
Exercise can affect a positive change in your mood. Mood changes can be associated with addiction recovery, and you can help your body adjust to its new circumstances by teaching it to naturally produce those feel-good chemicals that were sought artificially in drugs. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, providing feelings of happiness and well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, just 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to affect a positive change in mood.
You will enjoy an increase in your energy level. You may be expending plenty of energy when you run, swim, or ride a bicycle, but you will also receive energy in exchange for your efforts. If recovery has left you feeling tired and lethargic at times, regular exercise is one of the ways that you can put some spring back in your step.
Exercise strengthens your immune system. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health reports that getting regular exercise helps protect your body from certain serious conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Perhaps the greatest incentive to get regular exercise in addiction recovery is that regular movement can help prevent a return to alcohol or drug use. A collection of studies suggest that regular exercise can increase the abstinence rate for substance use by 95 percent. These studies also found that exercise can help manage stress, depression and anxiety, which can all contribute to substance use.
We hear many, many people bemoan the idea that they’re too out of shape, they lack the time, or they have some physical limitation like an old injury that keeps them from exercising. We truly believe that there is something everyone can do. You just need to figure out what you can do and get started.
The bottom line is that exercise can be a valuable part of the recovery process for a number of reasons, and you don’t have to become a fitness fanatic to see the benefits of exercise. Just take those first steps and get out there and move.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, the addiction recovery programs at Valor Recovery Center combine traditional and holistic therapies to create a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Our addiction experts can help you break free from harmful substances and learn a new way to live.
For help and support to overcome addiction, call us at 330-330-8777 to discuss your treatment options, or use our Contact Form for a callback.