How Physical Activity can Help with Recovery

Apr 4, 2019 | Advice, Education

Physical Activity and Addiction Recovery

When you use drugs and alcohol to the point of addiction, your body and mind take a beating. Addiction changes your body chemistry, and once those substances are removed, you might be left feeling anxious, depressed, and extra sensitive to everyday stresses of life. The good news is it doesn’t take much physical activity to shift the tide of those negative emotions. Whether you’re new in addiction recovery or have been away from harmful substances for many years, physical activity comes with a number of proven benefits.

Stress Reduction

Unmanaged stress is a problem in addiction recovery and can easily lead to relapse if not properly managed. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Physical activity releases certain chemicals in your brain like dopamine and improves circulation. It gets your body and mind to focus on something other than the feeling of stress.

Sleep Better

Having difficulty with sleep is common during recovery. Many people first begin abusing alcohol or drugs believing that those substances will help them sleep better. Now that you’ve removed those “sleep aids” from your life you’ll need to substitute something as effective. Physical exercise can improve both the quality and quantity of sleep by properly regulating your body’s temperature.

Improved Mood

Mood swings are often apart of the addiction recovery process. For many, the primary driver behind their addiction was to improve their mood. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which provide feelings of happiness and well being. The Mayo Clinic reports that just 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to effect a positive change in mood.

More Energy

You do use energy when you exercise, but you also receive energy in exchange for your effort. If addiction recovery has left you feeling tired and lethargic at times, starting a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to get some spring back in your step.

Stronger Immune System

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health reports that getting regular exercise helps protect your body from serious health conditions like cancer, stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Prevent Relapse

The biggest reason to start getting regular exercise during your addiction recovery is that it can dramatically decrease your chances of relapse. One study found the 69 percent of alcoholics whose rehab program included daily exercise stayed sober 90 days, while 62 percent of those in another control group whose treatment contained no exercise relapsed within the same time frame.

The evidence is pretty clear – exercise helps in addiction recovery. With so many different ways to achieve your daily physical activity goal, there is something out there for everyone.

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