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4 Reasons to Exercise During Alcohol and Substance Abuse Recovery

Deciding to seek treatment for addiction is a massive step toward recovery. Though it is a difficult journey, it is a path that will lead to a healthier and more fulfilling life. No matter which treatment program you are participating in, it is a good idea to consider incorporating exercise into your treatment. Exercise has many mental and physical advantages to a recovering addict. Check out some reasons why you should work out during addiction treatment. Become a Physically Healthier You There is a reason doctors emphasize the importance of physical activity. Working out for the recommended 150 minutes a week is proven to reduce weight, balance hormones, strengthen the heart, and increase energy. For a balanced routine, be sure to split your time between aerobic activity and strength training. Strive for a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to what you eat and by getting enough sleep. The average adult should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. While a balanced diet consists of consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, the American Heart Association warns you to watch and limit your sugars and saturated fats. Also, you should try to stay away from trans fats. Create a Better Mentality The many mental health benefits of exercise have been proven again and again. Thanks to an endorphin release, exercising has been proven as a natural way to reduce depression and anxiety. It is also an excellent method to relieve stress and increase focus. It is not uncommon for those recovering from abuse to experience these negative emotions. Not only is exercise a tool to relieve these tensions, but you do not have to be a pro to experience the benefits. Something as simple as a walk around the block when you’re feeling stressed can provide just as much relief as a 30-minute jog. Reduce the Risk of Relapse Perhaps the biggest reason to exercise while recovering, working out has been proven to reduce cravings. In addicts, the chemical dopamine, the “reward chemical,” becomes associated with alcohol or drugs. Working out also releases dopamine, and because of this, studies have proven that exercise lessens your chance of relapsing. However, be wary of replacing one addiction with another. If you find yourself obsessively counting calories and lifting weights, seek help immediately. To avoid this, work with a professional and focus on creating achievable athletic gains instead of vague or aesthetic goals. Have Some Fun Exercise does not have to be a chore, especially if you are new to it. The most important aspect is that you are moving. Start small and work on building up your strength and endurance. Pick an activity you enjoy doing; from jogging and swimming to tennis and hiking through nature, there are numerous options to choose from. You will be more likely to follow through with your workout routine if you are looking forward to doing it. To help get yourself out the door, Fitness Magazine recommends dressing for success. If you can, splurge on some good workout gear and leave it in sight on the days you want to work out. The visual reminder will encourage you to hit the gym. If you are still having difficulty getting yourself to break a sweat, try blocking out time on your calendar to exercise or signing up for a class. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself moving! Sober & Healthy Becoming sober is no easy feat, but exercise can help ease the process. Again and again, it has been proven to reduce cravings and the chances of relapse. Not only will you become physically healthy, but mentally as well. Using exercise as a supplement in recovery will help cement you on your path to sobriety. Photo courtesy of Pexels

Author: Constance Ray at

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