Fitness & Nutrition, Mental Health, Natural Health & Wellness

How Physical Fitness Can Aid In Addiction Recovery

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A strong body and mind are an excellent defense against cravings and a bulwark against stress. Along with a nutritious diet and plenty of rest, exercise can be a secret weapon in your recovery toolbox. It will help you combat negative thoughts and emotions and fight off relapse.  A great exercise regimen can help you to remain focused on regaining your health and life as you make your way through the recovery and healing process.

A Stronger Body

Regular physical exercise has proven benefits for your overall health. Your bones and muscles will become stronger and you will improve your immune response. As you become more fit, you will enjoy greater stamina and better overall health. Best of all, exercise can actually help the brain return to its pre-addiction state, increasing sensitivity to neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.  Prolonged drug or alcohol abuse weakens the brain’s sensitivity to these neurotransmitters, which is why it takes ever-increasing amounts of drugs to achieve the same high. When your brain becomes desensitized, you are much more prone to slip into anxiety and depression. In practical terms, exercise can enable you to feel joy and pleasure in your life again.

For many people struggling with addictions, medication and behavioral therapies are necessary. However, alternative practices, such as yoga, can help survivors rediscover happy, healthful, meaningful lives.

A Stronger Mind

Studies show that just thirty minutes of moderate exercise each day can elevate mood as well as some prescription antidepressants. It lowers stress hormones in the body and improves self-esteem. Should you participate in team sports or classes, it can help you to improve your social, communication, and relationship building skills. Regular exercise promotes healing as well as helps you to sleep more soundly. If thirty minutes is too difficult to schedule at one time, break it up into ten-minute increments three times a day; it is equally as effective. Consider trying several types of exercises to see what you most enjoy. Enroll in an aerobics or even spin class to really get the calorie-burning and cardio benefits. Or perhaps try stretching and yoga, which is actually great for boosting the immune system, reducing stress and anxiety, improving moods, and clearer thinking. When coupled with mindfulness meditation, yoga can really help you stay in the moment and focused on your recovery.

For many people suffering with a substance abuse addiction, dance movement therapy (DMT) provides a way to express their feelings without having to verbalize them.  Learn how to belly dance at home!

Have Fun

The most effective exercise regimen is one you look forward to eagerly and don’t want to put off.  Choose activities that you really enjoy doing. Don’t think of it so much as your exercise routine; think of it more as your playtime. This is a reward you are giving yourself for the hard work of getting sober, and you ought to enjoy it! Do you enjoy swimming or dancing? Both are actually great for cardio.  Personally, I love belly dancing!  It’s a great total body workout that’s tons of fun and leaves me feeling sexy and confident.  Do you want to increase muscle mass and feel stronger? Consider training with weights. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t made time for? What are you waiting for? Now is that time! Get outside and go do something fun again!  Learn a new skill such as horseback riding, archery, or whitewater rafting. The point is to get your body moving, your heart pounding, and your lungs savoring each breath of fresh air. Studies show that exercise outdoors, for example, a forest or woodland, are much more healthful than just simply going to the gym.

Your workout routine is just one of the many parts of your commitment to a new, healthy lifestyle and a healthier, happier you. It’s the first step on your road to learning how to love yourself. It’s basic self-care and learning how to make your own needs and priority, and learning to meet them properly. As you learn how to live a sober life, you are going to encounter stresses and temptations along the way. Having a healthy body and mind can help you to avoid sliding into relapse, providing you with the tools you need to face those challenges and come away stronger and even more determined to have a better life.  A happy, healthy, sober life.

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