Working Out in Recovery: Fitness for Recovering Addicts
To recover from drug addiction, you must find ways to heal your body, mind, and soul. Exercise is perhaps the most effective holistic activity that will help you achieve that lofty goal. The best thing about exercise is there are many options available and something for everyone. No matter your fitness level, you can find forms of exercise that are enjoyable and puts you firmly on the path to long-term recovery.
Benefits of Working Out in Recovery
Whether you go for a brisk walk, play a game of pickup basketball or hit the weights, working out releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the brain's natural "feel good" chemical. You feel great, relaxed, and you burn off the frustrations and stress the healthy way. When you exercise regularly, your tone and firm muscles, and you lose weight. As your body changes, you feel good about yourself and grow more confident in your recovery and you as a person.
Regular exercise in recovery also repairs the body from the inside and helps heal the damage caused by chronic drug and alcohol use. Exercise helps stretch the muscles and improves your flexibility. Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, which decreases blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases. Additionally, the release of endorphins that occurs during exercise helps reduce stress and cravings.
Other Benefits of Working Out in Addiction Recovery
There are additional benefits seen with exercise in addiction recovery. When you engage in fitness, you meet like-minded people who focus on health and wellness. Having this stable network of positive people can provide you support and encouragement to stay on the path. Most importantly, being with positive and supportive people lives little wiggle room to revert to old behaviors and destructive relationships.
The world of fitness allows you to shape and create a new identity. Fitness gives you direction and purpose, and it helps you set and realize goals that better you as a person. As already stated, exercise provides a healthy outlet to cope with your emotions and the stresses that you encounter in everyday life.
Additionally, fitness teaches you how to be accountable for yourself and others. No matter the exercise program, fitness helps develop discipline as you work towards your fitness goals. Adding an element of goal setting helps get into the habit of making incremental progress, which applies well to the recovery process.
What are Different Ways I Can Work Out in Recovery?
The great thing about fitness is there is a myriad of activities you can pursue-no matter your fitness level. Many individuals may have been sedentary and unhealthy during active addiction, which is why it's important to ease back into rigorous exercise activities. You can start simply by going for a daily 20-minute walk or going for a bike ride in your neighborhood. The idea is to shoot for consistency over time versus overdoing it with too exercise volume too early.
As your fitness levels increase, you can try more rigorous exercise such as running, aerobics, spin classes, or intramural sports as examples.
Additionally, you can incorporate meditative practices such as yoga into your exercise regimen. There is no one size fits all exercise regiment that is right for everyone. It's essential to find out what feels right to you through trial and error. Don't be afraid to try new things, and including family and friends in on the fun can increase the rewards.
Before You Start…
Don’t rush into exercise right away. Consult with your doctor first and get a thorough examination. Exerting yourself too hard after a long period of inactivity can be dangerous to your health. As with everything in recovery, take it a step at a time and keep at it. While there may be struggles along the way, you will begin to notice physical and psychological changes as your fitness improves. Working out in recovery can make all the difference in the world.