Exercise is an effective therapy for mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, and it can also be an essential part of addiction recovery. According to studies, people who engage in a fitness practice enjoy happier and healthier lives.1
Experts in the field of addiction recovery and psychological health state that fitness is vital for maintaining an addiction-free lifestyle and boosting mental health. Exercise lifts people’s spirits, making them feel on top of the world. In addition, it boosts confidence and improves self-esteem.
In this article, you will get a glimpse of what this concept is all about and get into the depth of wellness and addiction recovery. Is physical fitness truly functional in addiction recovery? What is the relationship between physical wellness and addiction recovery? What is the importance of physical wellness in addiction recovery? You’ll get answers to these questions and more below.
Physical wellness encompasses a lot of things, not just bodily exercises. The Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh defined physical wellness as “the capacity to maintain a healthy lifestyle that allows us to go about our everyday activities without becoming exhausted or stressed out.” 2 Making healthy decisions in the following areas contributes to physical wellness. These areas include nutrition, body movement and physical activity, sleep, stress, and sexual health.3
In the early 1800s, fitness was described as carrying out daily tasks without becoming exhausted or weary. Today, physical fitness is viewed as a measure of the body’s ability to perform effectively and successfully in work and leisure activities, be fit and active, resist hypokinetic diseases, improve the immune system, and respond to emergencies.4
Customized fitness programs focus primarily on one or more specialized abilities and health-related demands like bone health.5 According to several sources, mental, social, and emotional health are equally significant aspects of total fitness.
Exercise is essential in recovering from addiction; however, the importance of sticking to a regular exercise regimen to sustain sobriety is often overlooked. When combined with other forms of treatment, exercise can help avoid relapse by establishing a consistent routine, occupying free time, regulating mental health, and instilling more self-esteem. This section will discuss how physical wellness can be a powerful tool in recovering from addiction.
Physical activity can aid in the maintenance of a healthy weight and strengthen bones and muscles. Exercise is especially beneficial because weight issues are frequently associated with substance abuse recovery.
Exercising has physical health advantages beyond weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting active for at least one hundred fifty minutes per week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers, and other chronic diseases.6 In addition, regular exercise can help the brain recuperate from the adverse physiological consequences of chronic drug use by increasing the brain’s number of new nerve connections.
Abusing substances, such as alcohol or illicit drugs, causes many changes in the body systems. These chemicals can affect the metabolism system. Thus, exercising and maintaining physical wellness can combat and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Endorphins are hormones released in the body when participating in physical exercise. These endorphins, like morphine, interact with the receptors in the brain to reduce pain perception. After each workout, this process can result in positive feelings of excitement and optimism. Exercise-induced stimulation of these receptors does not result in addiction or dependence.
People need to feel competent and optimistic about the physical activities they engage in. Going into something with a negative mindset will most likely lead to a negative outcome.
Alongside exercising, nutrition and diet are factors of physical wellness as well. A good and well-planned diet helps fight illness and strengthens immunity. It is a big part of achieving physical wellness.
Alcohol can degenerate one’s health and slow down the pace of achieving physical wellness.
Leisure is a significant factor that allows people to relieve stress and creates a time for meditation.
Whenever patients encounter a problem on their path to recovery, they should immediately seek medical help to avoid complications.
There is a close relationship between physical wellness and addiction recovery. Illicit drugs and alcohol contain harmful chemicals that can damage parts of the body, so focusing on health and wellness can help offset the damage.
Exercise offers a slew of advantages for patients in addiction recovery, including raising abstinence rates, lessening withdrawal symptoms, serving as a distracting factor from cravings, and alleviating worry and despair that might emerge throughout the recovery process.
Addiction is a medical problem that can be treated; however, around 60% of people who seek treatment for a substance use disorder will relapse within a year.10 As a result, researchers are still looking for novel and efficient approaches to avoid recurrence.
Additionally, a small human trial of thirty-eight men and women who abused various drugs, including opiates, cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine, were given an exercise regimen. Participants committed to participating in social exercise three times a week for two to six months. Twenty persons completed the intervention. Five people claimed abstinence, and ten said they had reduced their substance usage when reviewed a year later.11
Physical activity, such as walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, yoga, and gardening, can improve mental health. Being physically active generates hormones in the brain, increasing self-esteem, concentration, and overall well-being.
Addiction recovery and exercise have been linked to each other through a series of studies and research. Here are some ways exercise can help with addiction recovery:
A lot of people say that exercise makes them happy. There’s a good reason for it. Any form of physical activity releases feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. Thus, exercise is a common go-to for anyone to treat depression and stress.
Engaging in physical activities can help patients reduce alcohol or drug cravings. This is because exercising can help occupy people’s time and keep their minds off unpleasant concerns throughout their recovery from addiction. A consistent fitness plan also provides structure. So, having a routine is crucial when someone is getting back on their feet.
It is common for substance use disorder to consume people’s lives and negatively affect their personal hygiene, physical strength, and mental health. Physical exercise and a healthy diet can aid in the recovery of one’s body and mind, enhancing the sense of well-being.
Physical wellness can serve as a great help to people trying to recover from drug addiction. In most rehabilitation centers, physical activity, nutrition, and exercise are incorporated in the treatment progress, showing positive results and recovery benefits.
Physical activity isn’t considered a standalone treatment for addiction—substance abuse treatment programs usually consist of numerous components. Inpatient therapy for alcohol and drug addiction is the most effective treatment method, providing twenty-four-hour monitoring and assistance.
Traditional addiction treatment therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and alternative therapies, such as mindfulness training, yoga, and adventure therapy, may be available in inpatient treatment programs. Combining multiple therapies and treatment methods provides personalized treatment plans for each patient. So, introducing physical wellness in the treatment process along with therapy can lead to a long and successful recovery.
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