Physical fitness on almost everyone’s wish list, and for good reason. Being fit not only makes you look great, but it also improves your health, fights disease, and helps your mental wellness, too. Exercise has even been found to be an effective tool in addiction recovery. The body and mind are profoundly negatively affected by addiction, so it is fitting that a leading antidote for substance abuse is an activity that greatly improves how we think and feel.
What Exercise Does to the Body and Mind
The benefits of exercise for the body are clear: weight management, stamina, muscle building, balance, and bone and joint health. Medical science has also found a connection between fitness and mental health. Those who exercise are happier, more positive about life, and more willing to complement their life with healthy choices. Exercise is known to trigger the release of endorphins that are similar to the pleasurable feelings experienced during substance use. Because of the similar brain chemicals, exercise is seen as a replacement for addictive behaviors. As such, it’s important to find the right workout for you.
In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, two symptoms that often lead to addictive behaviors. And as a habit, exercise is about as positive as one can get. One key of successful recovery is the ability to exchange a bad habit for a good one.
The Best Types of Exercise for Those in Recovery
There is no single best exercise for any fitness goal, and this holds true for addiction recovery. Everyone has individual needs and preferences when it comes to fitness, and preference is a key to maintaining sustainable fitness. Sustainable depends on how much you enjoy exercising, in general, and specific types of workouts. The first step is to find an activity that you enjoy. Then, all you have to do is gradually incorporate more of the activity. If you grow wary of the exercise, find something else you like. Avoid working out too hard, as it can cause injury or burnout, each of which can knock you off the path to fitness and recovery.
Experimenting with different types of exercise can keep your routine fresh and exciting. If you enjoy walking, try some slow jogging or more strenuous hikes. If you can, add in some cycling or swimming. Even a light amount of weight training is beneficial for both muscle building and fat loss, as the resistance can help increase your metabolism.
The Importance of an Overall Healthy Routine
Exercise is beneficial to mental and physical health, both of which support the fight against addiction, but there are additional efforts that help as well. A healthy diet is crucial for those going through addiction recovery. Those going through substance abuse frequently follow a poor diet, either eating rarely or eating food that is deficient in nutrients. When you exercise, you need fuel to burn and use for building muscle. A balanced, healthy diet should include lots of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and good fats like olive oil and avocados. Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, replacing these with unrefined and whole grain versions.
In addition to a balanced diet, exercise and addiction recovery can be supported with meditation and yoga. Both practices can help you develop mindfulness, which is an important component of recovery, and yoga has physical benefits for exercise, such as increased flexibility and muscle relaxation. Mindfulness has the additional benefit of further supporting recovery by countering depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Exercise is a positive activity that complements recovery. Recovery is possible when you find an exercise program that is something you can embrace for life.