The Benefits of Exercise in Recovery
As your body is adjusting and realigning itself to a life without drugs and/or alcohol, it is undergoing a wide array of changes. These changes, while they are positive in the long run, may seem overwhelming and unbearable in the meantime. Following addiction treatment and entering into recovery, it is normal to experience increased feelings of stress, have difficulty sleeping, have reduced energy and experience an array of anxious moods and depression.
Addiction completely changes your body chemistry and once your body is free from these substances, you may be extra sensitive to life and its stressors. The good news is you can bring on the positivity with exercise. It has been shown that exercise in recovery has numerous benefits, including increased energy and improved mood. Whether you have recently completed addiction treatment or you have been in recovery for years, here are just a few of the benefits you can reap with exercise.
Unfortunately, stress, which is often one of the reasons for crossing the line into substance abuse, is also one of the effects of recovery. However, the relief from stress from using becomes more allusive and never really goes away, the good news is that during recovery it will fade and eventually go away. Stress is something many people deal with and fortunately, exercise in recovery is a great way to relieve stress. During exercise, there are chemicals that are released from the brain that work to combat stress, so developing a healthy routine of exercise in recovery will go a long way in helping recovering individuals return to a place of balance and calmness.
Issues with getting a good night’s sleep are common, especially in early recovery. Regardless of the substance of choice, a stimulant or a depressant, stopping these substances can affect sleep. Difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or wanting to nap in the middle of the day may result, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish. While non-habit forming products may help slightly; an even more natural and better remedy is exercise. Regular exercise is extremely beneficial in improving sleep, both the number of hours you sleep and the quality of sleep you get. Therefore, as your sleep improves, so will your wakefulness. Those who sleep more sound generally report feeling more alert and able to tackle the demands of everyday life.
A common saying in many recover circles is “You have to give it away to keep it”-expending energy in the form of exercise isn’t any different. In other words, to get energy, you must give it. During exercise, the blood is pushed more aggressively to and through the heart, and your oxygen levels increase within your body. With regular exercise, the boost in your oxygen levels will significantly improve your overall energy. As your body becomes fitter, both physically and cardiovascular, the activities of daily living will become much easier to perform. You will notice that tasks are more efficiently completely and will require less energy. Incorporating an early routine of exercise in recovery can go a long way in helping those new to being clean and sober. It helps manage the demands of daily life.
Mood changes may frequently occur during the addiction treatment process. Even following detoxification, mood changes may fluctuate, especially during early recovery. It isn’t uncommon to feel on top of the world one minute and disheartened and lost the next minute. Your body is adjusting to life with the substance of choice and these changes in feels are absolutely normal. So, how can exercise help to improve the mood of those in recovery? Your mood is improved with the release of endorphins, which are a chemical that is released by your body during exercise. One commonality between substance abuse and exercise is that your body is seeking a way to produce certain feelings, such as euphoria. The good news is exercise produces endorphins that produce positive feelings, such as happiness and euphoria, but they are being released in a safe, beneficial way.
Cravings are a mental and physical urge and compulsion to use drugs or alcohol. Cravings are a known hallmark of addiction, and they are typically the strongest during the first few months of being abstinent. Fortunately, cravings do decrease in intensity over time and the longer you are in recovery, the less you will experience cravings. Research has shown that exercise is a great way to reduce cravings as well as the substance abuse associated with the cravings. One of the theories as to why exercise is beneficial at reducing cravings is that routine exercise decreases the protein levels in the brain that are associated with drug cravings. Another theory is that the “feel good” endorphins that are released during exercise produce a similar effect to drinking or using drugs. Regardless of the reasons, exercise has been proven to be extremely beneficial in reducing cravings and the drug-induced behaviors they generally precede.
One of the best benefits of exercise during recovery is that it helps to boost your confidence. While exercising, you are doing something good for you…it doesn’t matter how fast you run, how many miles you walked or how many pounds you are able to bench. Instead, exercise provides you with a sense of self-confidence through the mere fact that you have overcome addiction treatment and now in recovery and that you have the desire to exercise regularly. So, basically, it’s not the quality of your performance, it’s what you are doing to improve your self-image.
When paving the pathway to your success for recovery, there are many beneficial activities that you can do. Exercise happens to be one. At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we can help you discover activities to help you succeed in recovery. Contact us today to speak to a professional about getting help.