5 Ways Exercise is Beneficial to Those in Recovery from Addiction
Exercise and its many benefits on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being are widely known amongst those who prioritize around living a health-conscious lifestyle; yet, its importance is perhaps even more pronounced in the case of those who struggle committing to habits promoting wellness and engage in harmful practices instead, such as various forms of addiction. The abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs in itself is equally likely to wreak havoc on the body and the mind, while positive and health-supporting lifestyle choices are often forgotten or never learned in the first place.
When battling chemical dependencies caused by drug and alcohol addiction, regularly scheduled invigorating physical activities can introduce a vast number of advantages to restore balance and offer a wholesome path to recovery, creating the possibility for a new, healthier, and completely transformed life. Here are the five most outstanding ways how exercise can be beneficial to those recovering from addictions.
Table of Contents
Gaining Strength, Restoring Vitality, Speeding Up Detoxification
There’s nothing quite like experiencing positive bodily changes, gaining strength, improving body composition, and feeling full of energy and vitality as a result of physical exercise, all of which that are crucial in restoring a healthy self-confidence after battling dangerous addictions and the associated symptoms, feeling weak, unwell, and even unattractive or invisible to others. As the body transforms, self-worth is reborn, and a new sense of pride begins to emerge, offering a perhaps never-before-known level of empowerment that not only improves physical posture but reinforces personal dignity, as well.
Exercise is also the number one method to speed up the detoxification process of the body, ridding the body from addictive chemicals by speeding up metabolism, burning through fat reserves, promoting sweating, and strengthening the immune system. By moving the body, the period when uncomfortable and often disturbing detox symptoms are experienced can be shortened significantly.
Improving Mood, Alleviating Stress, Experiencing Natural High
Physical exercise may be exhausting, but amazingly, sore muscles are always offset by extra amounts of endorphin, -the happiness hormone- produced by the brain, leading to a euphoric experience that often resembles the feeling of being high, in a completely harmless, natural, and healing way. As a result, mood instantly improves, anxiety is reduced, and pent-up negative emotions are released in a way that leads to experiencing complete peace and being stress-free, something many who struggle with addictions yearn for but never get to experience through the means of reaching for harmful, brain-chemistry altering chemicals.
Building New, Positive Habits
Addictions wire the brain in ways that prompt the sufferer to seek for convenient, quick, and seemingly effective solutions that offer temporary relief from the various pains, traumas, anxieties, anger or other repressed and unresolved emotions that likely lead to the development of harmful habits in the first place. To break this cycle, brand new options need to be introduced that are equally effective in alleviating these negative feelings, offering more constructive ways to manage these, while promising new and better rewards than drugs or alcohol could ever do. Exercise, when chosen consistently as a healthier alternative to addictive substances, will rewire the brain so that it begins to desire the positive effects of physical activity as the ultimate stress reliever or mood booster.
Finding New, Supportive Relationships
Addiction sufferers often find themselves lonely when family members or former friends distance themselves, moving on without offering them emotional support and company when it’s needed the most. In some cases, former friends and peers were the ones introducing alcohol or drugs, which makes these relationships undesirable to continue when someone commits to participating in recovery programs, yet there are no new and healthier connections to replace these with, pushing a person into social isolation. Exercise offers plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Even if a solo sport is chosen, regularly engaging in the same physical activities will open up a brand new world where just the mere example of seeing other joggers or walkers can evoke feelings of pride and a healthy sense of belonging somewhere again, which could serve as a powerful motivator during the difficult initial months of recovery.
Empowerment Through Mindfulness
Exercise offers something to give undivided attention to, focusing fully on the present moment, removing the temptation to dwell on the past or worry about the future and activating old habits associated with these painful or anxious thoughts. When body and mind work in sync to overcome physical limitations, moments of intense clarity and mindfulness can be felt, offering freedom and empowerment through experiencing complete self-control, perhaps for the very first time, reinforcing all other aspects of recovery that teach liberation from addictive habits.
From physical wellness to mental balance, gaining self-control and building a new, meaningful social life, exercise is the single best natural method to choose for those in addiction recovery. Once all of these positive effects become apparent, a brand new world opens up, speeding up recovery and making relapses a thing of the past permanently.
About The Author:
Ruben Lopez is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for addiction treatment. He is committed to helping those who are in recovery.