Come for the Fitness Stay for the Fun
Using Physical Fitness to Recover from Addiction
Written by Constance Ray for n'Caliente fitness
If you’re recovering from addiction, you probably receive help from an addiction treatment center. You may speak with a therapist, participate in group therapy and avoid situations and people that may cause you to return to your old ways. But these methods aren’t the only way to successfully recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Physical fitness is also a pathway to leading a life free from drugs and alcohol. Here are some ways that working out can help you on your road to recovery.
A Natural High
Scientists have discovered that the brain enjoys a chemical reward whenever you exercise. In fact, it reduces craving for drugs like marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine and meth. It makes you less likely to pursue the high of taking mind-altering drugs because you are already experiencing a natural chemical reward inside your brain. It boosts your mood, improves cognitive functions and relieves mild depression.
But that’s not all that exercise does for recovering addicts. It helps you learn how to cope with stress and makes you want to take better care of your body. This also makes it less likely that you’ll turn to drugs since often people take drugs to relieve stress and help them cope with life’s struggles.
Types of Exercises
If you’ve never exercised before, take it slow. Don’t try to run a marathon when you’ve never even jogged a mile before. Begin by taking a walk around the neighborhood each day. Consider finding a walking buddy to keep you motivated. If being outside isn’t your thing, try walking on the treadmill instead. Treadmills are great tools for weight loss because you can watch TV while you walk. If you’d like to work up to jogging or running, take your time and work your way up to a faster pace. You can also try walking for a few minutes and switching to jogging for a minute or two.
Take a dance class or join a sports team. Sign up with a fitness center and workout with a group. Most fitness centers offer a variety of group classes for all fitness levels. Whether you want to salsa your way through a latin-inspired dance workout or a basic cardio class, you can usually find something that fits your interests and abilities. Choose a gym based on your specific lifestyle. If you plan to workout in the morning, choose a fitness center located near your home. But if your goal is to exercise during your lunch hour or immediately after work, find a fitness center near your job.
Try a Gentler Form of Exercise
Don’t rule out more low key exercise programs like yoga, pilates and swimming. These forms of physical activity help relieve stress and strengthen coping skills. For example, pilates helps improve body awareness, strength and flexibility. Yoga unifies both the mind and body, focusing on breathing, exercising and meditation. Swimming eases stress and serves as both cardio and strengthening exercise. But even though physical exercise aids in addiction recovery, so does finding a quiet place to meditate. Meditation helps you deal with anxiety and avoid relapse.
Recovery from addiction is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. Often it involves group therapy, speaking with a counselor and finding support from family and friends. But engaging in exercise also helps aid in recovery.
The natural high you receive from walking, running or performing other types of workouts helps you build self esteem and boost your mood. It makes you appreciate the importance of caring for your body and provides a potent stress relief. If you are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, don’t neglect this powerful part of any treatment plan. It just might help you turn away from your drug cravings and find other ways to experience a high.
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