Exercising is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. In fact, for individuals in recovery, it may be the last thing on their mind, and the last thing they feel inclined to do, while working to maintain their sobriety. However, it is indisputable that regular physical activity can be an integral part of staying sober. This is a claim backed by research. Studies have shown that adding exercise to addiction treatment can help strengthen the effects of recovery.
It is a significant factor that exercise provides a natural high. An individual in recovery may be missing the feeling of being high, which could tempt them towards relapsing. The endorphins released by exercise can produce the same feeling of euphoria, making it easier for an individual in recovery. Yes, the high will be less intense than one that comes with taking drugs or alcohol, the individual is safe in the knowledge that they are experiencing it naturally.
Additionally, exercise can mitigate the negative effects that come with giving up substance abuse and lead to better sleep, less anxiety and depression and reduce weight gain. Simply put, it improves the individual’s overall health.
The danger here is that the individual might start replacing their substance addiction with an exercise addiction. Yes, that is a real thing. It is known as ‘substitute addiction’ or ‘addiction transfer’, and the individual needs to be careful that they don’t fall into that trap.
There are many reasons why sticking to an exercise program can help an individual in recovery.
Something to do – Prioritizing physical activity will take up a good chunk of the individual’s schedule. It will allow the individual to focus on something constructive and keep boredom away. Keeping busy means the that they will have less time to think about going back to using.
Sound Sleep – Addiction disrupts many body processes, sleep being among them. Individuals with an addiction often find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep without turning to their chosen drug. In recovery, as the body returns to normal, exercise can help to restore the individual’s sleep cycle.
Healing the Body and Mind – It is common knowledge that being physically active helps to ward off heart disease, type 2 diabetes as well as boosts immunity. Furthermore, research has shown that regular exercise increases the number of new nerve connections in the brain, and this helps it heal from the effects of substance abuse.
Builds Self Confidence – If the individual is not very athletic, they can start with a simple walking program, gradually increasing the time as they get used to it. Like learning anything new, the more the individual does it, the better they will get at it. And as they start seeing the mental and physical benefits of exercise, they will start feeling stronger and more confident in other areas of their life.
Ultimately, being active makes it easier to de-stress and handle a crisis. Anytime the individual feels overwhelmed, they can turn to exercise to regain their balance and composure, as well as do something proactive for their recovery.
Are you looking for a personalized program for your loved one? We can tailor make individualized programs for young adults facing recovery.