The Importance of Exercise in Addiction Recovery
Drug and alcohol addiction often compromises previously important interpersonal, recreational, and occupational activities. However, joining an addiction treatment programme allows addicts to break away from the cycle of drug and substance abuse. Addicted persons also get ample time to repair affected relationships during addiction recovery.
Most addiction treatment centres focus on addressing the impacts of substance abuse in your life. As such, they will take a holistic approach to improve your general well-being. Conventionally, recovery primarily revolved around individual therapy, medication, and group counselling. However, several rehab centres have uncovered the importance of exercise and staying fit to recovery.
How Does Exercise Affect the Mind and Body?
Regular exercise is generally important for your mind and body, especially when recovering from drug and substance abuse. Though often ignored, mental and physical health are connected, and exercise routines provide an opportunity to improve both simultaneously.
- Physical Health Benefits of Exercise
Physical exercises strengthen the bones and muscles. It also helps develop a healthy body weight. Beyond this, exercise is important for those struggling with weight gain during addiction recovery. Quitting alcoholism or smoking increases appetite, often leading to weight gain. However, the physical benefits of exercise are beyond weight management.
Physical activities are also known to reduce the risks of diabetes, some cancers, heart diseases, and many other chronic conditions. Regular exercises also increase the rate at which new nerve connections are formed, which supports the brain’s recovery from the harmful effects of substance abuse.
- Mental Health Benefits of Exercises
Apart from physical benefits, exercises also contributes to mental fitness and a spiritually fit recovery. Physical activities stimulate the body to release endorphins, which decrease the perception of pain in the brain. Activating the brain receptors naturally through exercise cannot lead to dependence or addiction. Endorphins also lead to optimism and euphoria after completing a workout.
Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery
Regular exercise contributes to fit recovery in the following ways:
1. Regular Exercise Relieves Stress
Stress reduction is important for substance use addicts. Most people withdrawing from drug and substance abuse face hardships and stressful situations. However, routine exercises directly affect the part of the brain responsible for controlling stress and anxiety. Both low and high-intensity exercises have been proven effective in reducing stress levels.
It also helps those recovering become aware of their mental state and relief. Physical activities allow you to focus on your body instead of other stressors that often contribute to relapse. Increased heart rate during exercises also triggers the production of serotonin (anti-stress hormone), which improves your overall sense of wellbeing.
2. Exercise Occupies Your Time and Thoughts
Most people find a lot of free time during addiction recovery, probably because they haven’t begun working yet and don’t have to look for drugs. Unfortunately, having free time is a major contributor to most relapses. Therefore, recovering addicts may look to find better ways of utilising their free time.
Engaging in physical activities is an excellent way to use this free time. Depending on the nature of the exercise, you can spend several hours every day taking your time and thoughts off. You may find group fitness activities that peak your interests. You should find ways to keep yourself busy, especially during the first days of addiction recovery.
Exercise routines eliminate the chances of making split decisions about how you should use your spare time. Such split decisions often lead to poor choices. Setting exercise goals further distract you from substance use cravings and redirect your thoughts toward constructive activities.
3. Exercise Improves Sleep
Combining fitness and recovery helps promote a good night’s sleep during addiction recovery. Most recovering people cannot make the best decisions for themselves because of inadequate or poor-quality sleep. Fatigue often results from poor sleep quality and can contribute to substance use relapse.
While sleep is important for everyone, most people struggling with addiction recovery face difficulties sleeping during the early phase due to the effects of withdrawal. Regular exercise ensures that you stay recovery fit and promotes sleep quality by enhancing recuperative processes to restore strength and healthy sleep. Several studies have found that engaging in moderate physical activities for at least 150 minutes improves sleep quality by 65%.
4. Exercise Curbs Substance Use Cravings
Adhering to routine exercise benefits those recovering from cannabis, opioids, cocaine, and other amphetamines. Working out improves blood flow in the heart and increases the rate at which oxygen and nutrients flow to body muscles. Improved nourishment contributes to better, stronger growth and increases energy levels. High energy levels improve your capabilities, including the ability to resist drugs.
5. Exercise Improves Relationships
Regular exercise also helps in the development of healthy relationships, which are crucial during addiction recovery. Joining an exercise class in your local gym is an excellent way of meeting other people in a sober environment. Making new friends during the first stages of recovery is quite challenging. However, participating in recreational activities introduces you to new people with similar interests.
How to Start Exercising
Those recovering from drug and substance abuse can engage in various exercises depending on their experience levels. However, when choosing a suitable exercise, opt for low-impact routines. For instance, walking for 30 minutes daily has positive health effects.
You can try out several activities before finding one that suits you. Popular exercises that promote fitness in recovery include:
- Team sports
- Cross fit
- Lifting weights
The Bottom Line
Most treatment facilities offer these exercises and allow patients to choose activities that best suit their preferences. While regular exercise is important for fitness recovery, it cannot solve substance use addiction solely. Therefore, if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, The Retreat NZ offers effective interventions for one to stay sober.