March 19, 2018 | by Haven Staff
Recovery takes a lot of work, especially in the beginning. The addict has to change so much, including friends, sometimes jobs and always his or her way of thinking. The idea of adding a fitness routine to the mix can feel overwhelming, however, for many, it is an important component of staying clean and sober.
By the time most people get into recovery, they have abused their health and bodies for months if not years. Substance abuse disorders typically put the addict's health last on the priority list. Once recovery of the mind begins, it is important to also begin the physical recovery. Benefits of doing so include:
Life is filled with stress factors. An addict working toward recovery typically faces more than the average stress level as consequences from past decisions come home to roost. An exercise regime can reduce stress both psychologically and physically. Psychologically it increases endorphins in the brain, which are known to promote feelings of happiness. Physically, exercise gets the blood pumping and strengthens muscles.
The Mayo Clinic reports that an exercise program allows the brain to focus solely on the task at hand, which in turn puts the mind into a meditation state. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and provide an overall better ability to cope with stress.
Antidepressants chemically raise the endorphins in the brain, thereby, reducing depression. Because exercise naturally increases endorphins, it is no surprise that a physical fitness regime improves symptoms of depression.
An addict in recovery typically gives up old friends. This can be quite lonely, and trigger a relapse. Joining a gym, outdoor exercise group or jogging team provides instant contact with other fitness conscious people. Out of the group, new friendships are possible in addition to the regular social contact participating provides.
By the time most people with substance abuse disorders enter recovery, they have a lot of amends to make with friends and family. Carving time out each day for a physical fitness routine provides the addict with some time to focus solely on himself or herself and do something that reinforces the idea that an addict is still a valuable person.
Whether the addict chooses to join a gym, design a private at-home regime or join an established exercise group, improving physical health and fitness will serve to benefit the overall recovery effort.