Regular exercise is one of the best ways to lose weight and sculpt the body you want, but you may not realize just how therapeutic exercise is too. The role of exercise in addiction recovery is remarkable. Exercise is a key component that helps facilitate recovery from any kind of addiction — regardless of whether it’s sugar addiction, alcohol addiction, or drugs. People who are in recovery need healthy habits to manage mental health. Physical fitness, when combined with other habits for a healthy lifestyle, can be one of those tools that help you stay sober and live life to the fullest.
The Benefits of Exercise In Addiction Recovery
Business Insider describes exercise as “the closest thing we have to a miracle drug” because it is an all-natural way to get a multitude of benefits to both mind and body. Exercise helps improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety and depression. According to VeryWell Mind, exercise eases the physical symptoms of anxiety by relieving tension. Getting your heart rate up also produces endorphins, which are the chemicals in your brain that naturally relieve stress and make you feel happier.
Managing emotions is a crucial skill to have in recovery so that you can handle triggers in a healthier way. Another mental health boost you get from exercise is improved self-esteem and self-acceptance. Feelings of shame are common for people who are in recovery, but those feelings don’t help you in the long run. Getting fit and creating a positive sense of self helps banish shame so you can move forward with a renewed belief in yourself.
Exercise also has physical benefits that carry over into other aspects of your life. When you develop strength and stamina, you’re able to do more, and you may even discover a passion for a sport, dance or outdoor adventure. When you’re physically fit, you also feel better and have more energy.
The Best Types of Exercise for Recovery
If you’re completely new to exercise, you may feel like you don’t know where start. When you’re trying to find the best workout routine for your needs, one of the easiest ways to start is with walking. Walking is low-impact, so you can start slow and build as you get stronger. You can walk almost anywhere with nothing but a pair of tennis shoes, so you can fit it into the nooks and crannies of your schedule.
When you’re ready to step it up, cardio workouts that really get your heart pumping will boost those endorphins even more. Try adding some weight training to increase strength, too. The key to sticking with it is finding something you enjoy. You may like spending time on the treadmill or elliptical, or zoning out with a good book or magazine. But if the gym doesn’t get you excited, try a dance class or a new sport. There are thousands of ways to exercise — find something you like!
Maintaining a Healthy Exercise Routine
Creating a workout routine in recovery is the first step toward lifelong healthy living. Substance abuse is hard on your body, so take it slow at first. As you get into a routine, developing new healthy habits like exercise, good nutrition, plenty of rest and hydration will become a way of life that replaces the unhealthy habits of substance abuse.
You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting a whole new way of life, but the key is to make small changes that add up to make a big difference. For example, start drinking a glass of water first thing every morning. This is a simple action, but it boosts metabolism and clears your mind, so you’re setting yourself up to make other healthy choices all day.
Another strategy for maintaining an overall healthy routine is to create the right environment for meeting your goals. So, if you exercise from home, set up a space where your workout equipment is easy to access whenever you’re ready.
Creating an overall healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight, but changing simple daily habits is the perfect start. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the process. Over time, you will find that being healthy and fit is the foundation for being able to truly live life in recovery.