Most people know that regular physical activity is good for the body and mind, but were you aware that exercise can actually help those who are fighting drug or alcohol addiction? When combined with other types of treatment, exercise can go a long way in improving not just the physical health of a recovering addict but the mental and emotional well-being too.
There are many benefits to working out beyond aiding in addiction recovery. Here are a few that many seeking sobriety have come to enjoy after establishing a consistent routine.
1. Stress Relief
Some recovering addicts used drugs or alcohol in the past to deal with stressful situations. Once they stop using, it can be hard to find something to deal with the pressures of daily life. Exercise can help many people cope. Whether you choose to ride a bike, run, or lift weights, you can enjoy the benefit of reduced stress.
2. Craving Avoidance
Anyone who has struggled with substance abuse knows how hard it can be on days when the cravings to use again feel overwhelming. Studies have found that a regular exercise routine can help curb those cravings. Some former users even report that they were less likely to relapse on days when they worked out.
While cravings may not be completely erased, physical fitness can increase your energy, which makes you less likely to turn to stimulants.
3. Better Sleep
Everyone, whether or not they are former addicts, can benefit from sleeping well. Without enough sleep, everyday tasks are more difficult. When fatigue sets in, it becomes more difficult to make the right choices for your health.
Working out can improve sleep. Not only can it tire you out physically, but it gets your brain ready to rest as well. It helps regulate circadian rhythm, your internal clock. Plus, if you have a regular routine, your body knows what to expect at certain times of the day.
4. Improved Self-Esteem
Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can cause a lot of shame. For some, recovery means gaining weight. Regardless of how your body looks after battling addiction, working out can improve self-esteem. Physical exercise makes your body stronger, and it is challenging. The combination of seeing physical improvement and overcoming difficulties can be motivation to keep going, no matter what.
With improved self-esteem, your mental health is likely to get a boost. If you’ve been dealing with depression or anxiety after getting sober, working out, along with therapy, can help you start to feel better.
A regular fitness routine is ideal for those in recovery. Structure and commitment can help prevent relapse. Using technology can help you stick with a routine. Try a fitness watch to track your steps, or invest in some quality lightweight speakers so you can listen to your favorite music while you move. You don’t have to blow your budget when you look for options you can afford.
Sobriety is a journey, and it takes work to stay on the path. By adding exercise to your daily routine, you can enjoy benefits far beyond just looking better. When physical fitness is part of your recovery, you may find that you are better able to handle the good days and the bad days.
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