Addiction is hard on your body. If you’re an addict just starting your recovery, incorporate physical fitness into your new life. But don’t be afraid to take it slow at first.
Walking away from addiction is a challenging, exciting time — and building up your body and mind will help you persevere along your journey. Many rehab centers see the value in physical fitness and have incorporated exercise into their recovery programs.
The value of exercise in addiction recovery
Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol also neglect their bodies, and when they begin to work toward sobriety, their bodies need help, too. Incorporating even a basic fitness regime offers a wealth of benefits:
- Exercise makes you feel good, releasing the same endorphins you experienced from your addiction, but more healthfully.
- Exercise offers an opportunity to think clearly...or not think at all. If you’re pounding the pavement to the rhythm of great music, you can get into a meditative zone. When you’re tracking reps as you work through a weightlifting routine, there’s no room to think about anything else.
- Exercise provides great stress relief and release — that kickboxing class is all you need to work out frustrations on a heavy bag. A little nature therapy, from a hike in the woods or kayaking on the lake refreshes and enervates.
- Exercise allows you to have control. It’s a set thing you do every day — a portion of time when you’re thinking about something other than your addiction.
- Exercise improves your overall health, reduces blood pressure, drives weight loss, decreases the risk of developing heart, neurological, and other diseases.
- Exercise eases symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS) which you might suffer if your body’s withdrawing from opiates or benzodiazepine drugs.
Exercise’s effects on your brain
It really is a little like magic. Exercise directly and indirectly helps improve your memory and thinking. It also positively influences sleep patterns — and recovering addicts often struggle to get good, productive sleep especially early in their recovery period.
Fit Recovery was created by a recovering addict who wanted to show the synergy between exercise and addiction recovery. The site posts an article with the top 10 ways exercise rewires your brain.
Exercise’s power to reduce stress and build self-confidence
Doctors have long established the physical benefits of exercise, but how does it reduce stress and improve mental fitness? Researchers have learned that people who incorporate aerobic activities into their exercise routines benefit from lower tension, elevated and stabilized moods, and improved self-esteem.
It only takes five minutes of cardio to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. A 10-minute walk relieves anxiety and depression as effectively as a 45-minute workout. The American Psychological Association states that the exercise effect is an important element to treating anxiety and depression—which also accompany people recovering from addiction.
Finding and implementing the right exercise for you
You’ve taken that step on your journey to recovery, and now it’s time to incorporate a fitness routine into your daily life to build healthy habits to sustain you for the long term.
Pick something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership, if that’s not your thing. If you’re lonely, gyms are great places to meet people with whom you’ll click. The goal is to improve yourself, reduce cravings and binges, decrease the chance of a relapse, and heal damage the addiction caused to your body.
Try these activities:
- Team sports
- Rock climbing
- Martial Arts
Start slowly, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while, to avoid the risk of injury. Schedule your workouts on a calendar to hold yourself accountable. Choose activities you like so you’ll keep doing them — and mix it up now and then so you don’t tire of an activity. Invite friends to join you and help keep you motivated. Incorporate healthy eating into your fitness routine, too.
Your hard work will pay off as you get stronger, more confident and more in tune with yourself as you continue your recovery.
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Are you interested in our Hot Feet Fitness 11th Step Meditation class for your own recovery and wellness?
The 11th Step Power Meditation class is designed to draw the inner you out while releasing the strain of outside forces. This class is designed to fulfill your need to relax and focus. Meditation can be used in support of AA or other supportive programs. Classes are designed to be taken in plain-clothes and are non-heated. Participants are encouraged to bring a mat to be comfortable and may participate in stretch and gratitude segments of the session. Contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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