The physical and mental benefits of exercise are undeniable, and you can experience them whether you go on daily walks or are a triathlete. But you may be surprised to learn about the link between addiction recovery and exercise. On its surface, it might seem like lifting weights or attending a spin class is not contributing to your sobriety, but it’s doing more than you might expect.
A substantial part of recovery involves your brain and body getting used to life without drugs and alcohol, which often causes uncomfortable side effects like insomnia, stress and mood swings. Exercise can help mitigate these symptoms and allow you to feel healthier and happier in your new sober lifestyle.
Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery
1. Stress reduction: Stress is a significant factor that can jeopardize your sobriety. However, when you can no longer reach for drugs or alcohol to unwind, you may not have any idea what to do with your pent-up stress. Luckily, almost any physical activity can help release tension. Even 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to help you feel better. If you’re short on time, you can break that 30 minutes up into smaller blocks throughout the day.
2. Better sleep: Sleep issues are a common struggle for people in recovery. Because of the way addiction affects sleep, newly sober people often have trouble falling or staying asleep, and may feel constantly run-down and tired as a result. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve both your quality and quantity of sleep, and it can prevent you from relying on medications as well. Once you’re well-rested, you can feel prepared to tackle any challenge that comes your way.
3. More energy: A tried-and-true rule of recovery is that you get out of it what you put into it. In other words, you need to put in the effort to get to the rewards. Regular exercise improves your circulation, which means your blood is more efficient at carrying oxygen and nutrients to your muscle tissue. The result is improved energy. Even on days when you don’t feel up to the challenge, try to do some form of exercise. Still unmotivated? Try the 10-minute rule. Make a deal with yourself to get moving for at least 10 minutes. Chances are, once you start, you’ll feel good enough to keep going.
4. Improved mood: Mood swings are common in early recovery. You may wake up feeling ready to tackle any challenge, and by lunchtime, you are wrestling with worthlessness. These changes are normal as your body becomes accustomed to living without alcohol or drugs. Exercise can go a long way toward boosting your mood, thanks to the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. People with mental health issues such as depression often benefit from the mood-enhancing benefits of exercise, too.
5. Better overall health: Exercise helps prevent a host of illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It can regulate your blood pressure and keep you at a healthy body weight.
What If You Hate to Exercise?
Many people drag their feet on starting an exercise program because they feel uninspired. If you weren’t into fitness before entering recovery, you might not know where to begin. The good news is that there are many different ways to work out, and once you discover what you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
For example, maybe you hate the idea of running, but you have always had good balance and flexibility. Why not try yoga? Or, maybe you’re more motivated to exercise when you have friends to work out with. Find a sports league near you and get in the game!
Learn More About Your Recovery
Spearhead Lodge is a cutting-edge treatment facility for young men living with substance misuse disorders. We provide a healing environment in Austin, Texas, that enables you to embrace a healthy lifestyle and learn how to have fun without drugs and alcohol. To inquire about help for yourself or someone close to you, contact us today.