5 Ways Exercise Helps in Recovery from Addiction

exercise and addiction recoveryAddiction takes a physical toll on our bodies that we often discover during early recovery. We notice that we have allowed our bodies to atrophy and often pay little attention to our physical needs. Therefore, when we initiate addiction recovery it can be very beneficial to add an exercise regimen into our program of recovery.

Below you’ll find 5 key benefits of exercise and addiction recovery:

Improved Sleep

Regular physical exercise is a natural way to improve your sleeping habits. Aerobic exercises in particular; are shown to reduce insomnia as well as to improve the quality of your sleep. The result will have you feeling more energized in the morning time and ready to tackle a new day. During active addiction, our natural circadian rhythm becomes unbalanced and returning to a positive sleep cycle becomes ever more important during early recovery. This is one benefit of exercise and addiction recovery that should not be overlooked!

Reduced Stress

Physical activity elevates your natural production of endorphins, our brain’s pleasure neurotransmitters. During addiction, our natural production of endorphins becomes slow as we are introducing outside chemicals that act in place of the endorphins. In early recovery patients often report mild depression and anxiety and general malaise. Through both aerobic and anaerobic exercise in addiction recovery: we can assist our body’s natural healing response in producing and releasing endorphins in our body. The result is increased energy and elevated mood.

Self Confidence

Engaging in physical exercise not only strengthens and shapes our outward appearance but it also acts to strengthen our self-image. It is important to set realistic fitness goals for ourselves, goals that are within our scope to attain. When we set and succeed at this goal, it gives a sense of self-pride and contentment. Addiction is often at odds with our sense of self-confidence and we tend to focus on our falls rather than our triumphant rises. Exercise and addiction recovery can help to remind us that we are still capable to attain our goals and aspirations.

Immune System Health

The link between exercise and a healthy immune system has been studied and confirmed by many independent medical agencies. Exercise can contribute to your overall health in reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and back pain. As with all activities, it is important to assess your personal needs before pursuing an exercise regimen. Low impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, can help to strengthen atrophied muscles and reduce pain throughout the body. Exercise has also been shown to increase the production of white blood cells in the body, cells that fight infection.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse is a realistic occurrence especially during early addiction recovery, but it is something that can be avoided through strategic measures. Proper planning and a structured day can be a positive away to avoid a relapse. Exercise can provide a positive physical outlet that can be utilized by a person in early recovery as a tool of recovery. Set an exercise schedule and do your best to follow it and you can not only enjoy the physical benefits but also a sense of accomplishment. It is ok if you miss a day or two here and there. Nobody is perfect after all!

Exercise can be a fun and new adventure in your life in addiction recovery. It is part of a holistic approach that many have benefitted from and continue to do so on a daily basis. Remember that there are no rules to follow only that you set goals that are attainable for you. Overextending your body’s natural capabilities can do more harm than good.

Author: Robert Fasoli – Footprints to Recovery – Regional Outreach Specialist

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