Recovery is more than a treatment; it is a lifestyle. This is why exercise in addiction recovery is important. Here are 5 good reasons for it.
When most people think about addiction recovery, they imagine a life of stringent rules and white knuckle will power to make sure you don’t slip off the edge back into oblivion. With high quality outpatient addiction treatment, that is definitely not the case. People recover, and they can thrive.
One of the ways people experience a new sense of self is in their physical lives. When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is often little to no room or motivation for physical activity. But once they are free from the chemicals that were harming their bodies and minds, the benefits of exercise are far more appealing.
Not only that, but they can contribute to long term recovery!
If you are considering trying out exercising while in recovery, here are some of the benefits of exercise in addiction recovery.
1. Improves Mood
A significant reason a person develops a substance use disorder is because of the quick fix for difficult emotions. Drugs and alcohol feel good. There are deeper issues involved, but drugs medicate people where they have the immediate need. Of course, these chemicals don’t last and don’t solve the deeper issues individuals face.
Exercising feels good too! It produces serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine – chemicals the body produces naturally that induce feelings of happiness. There are lots of reasons why this good feeling is better than the one generated by drugs or unhealthy alcohol use, but one of the most important is it increases your mood and offers long-term physical and emotional benefits.
Exercise is part of a healthy life, and this works synergistically with a healthy recovery.
2. Reduces Stress
Regular exercise in addiction recovery helps manage adrenaline, a stress hormone responsible for our fight-or-flight response. While adrenaline is essential for proper body functions, it can be detrimental to overall health if there’s too much of it.
Exercise helps deplete adrenaline to healthy levels. Similarly, it triggers the body to release serotonin, inducing a sense of well-being.
Stress is proven to be a major contributor to relapse. Whatever you can do to help keep your stress levels down, especially during your first year of recovery, will contribute to long-term sobriety.
3. Creates Structure and Routine
The lack of structure and routine can cause you to feel lost, leading to anxiety and depression. However, creating a regular exercise routine gives your life structure and meaning, which inhibits the need to indulge in harmful behaviors.
With a structured exercise routine, individuals in recovery will have a solid foundation that is so helpful in creating a sense of wellness. Certainly, chaos will always create unexpected events, but the routine of still getting your run in or your stroll at the park, has a grounding effect that will help you weather the storms.
4. Boosts immunity
Heavy drug and alcohol use is directly related to immunosuppression, rendering the affected drug user more susceptible to infections and diseases. Exercise, on the other hand, has been clinically proven to improve immunity and overall health.
Regular exercise is also known to prevent and slow the onset of multiple lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, stroke, and others.
5. Improves Sleep
Adequate sleep is an essential component of addiction treatment. Lack of sleep can interfere with recovery and even lead to relapse. This is because good sleep is linked to good decision making, enhanced moods, clear thinking, better social interactions. All these things have clear influences on lasting recovery.
Exercise improves sleep by helping the body release excess energy and requires relaxation to recuperate.
According to research, about two and a half hours of moderate to intense physical exercise can improve sleep quality by 65%.
If you’re on a recovery journey, incorporating regular exercise will help you recover faster and improve your overall mind and body health significantly.
Exercise in Addiction Recovery at the Institute for Addiction Medicine
The Institute of Addiction Medicine is a place for individual and groups to find addiction treatment educational resources and interact on their experience with drug treatment and lasting recovery. Our sister organization, the Volpicelli Center for Addiction Treatment offers medication assisted outpatient drug and alcohol detox. Please contact us if you have any questions about our offerings or the Volpicelli Center program.