Why physical exercise is important during addiction recovery

The benefits of exercise for your mental, physical and emotional health has been promoted for many decades now. Find out why it’s so important during addiction recovery.

We’re familiar with the idea that exercise is good for us. That it doesn’t just help us to stay healthy, get fit and strong, and lose weight. But what does it have to do with addiction? How can lifting weights, or for that matter, just taking a brisk walk help us to get and stay sober? 

A body that is recovering and adjusting to the new sober lifestyle after being subjected to alcohol or drug abuse is undergoing a lot of change. Experts at Lantana Recovery Center understand these changes and encourage physical exercise, along with other healthy activities,  as  a means of getting better. 

Trethowans
Trethowans

Here are some benefits of exercise during addiction recovery.

1) Exercise protects your brain from drugs

Long term alcohol or drug abuse causes the white matter in your brain – the path that links brain cells to each other – to deteriorate.

Several studies, including ones by the University of Colorado and the University of Maine, have found that regular exercise protects the brain matter from damage, be it aerobics or simply cycling.

This is because exercises increase the the creation of a compound called BNDF (Brain derived Neurotrophic factor) which causes the growth of nerve cells and their connections

2) Exercise can help to prevent relapse

Probably the biggest incentive when it comes to exercise during addiction recovery is the fear of relapse after months of work.

A collection of studies, including the National Institute of Drug Abuse and Harvard Health, show that not only it lowers the risk of dying from overdose, but also abstinence rate increases up to 95% in people who regularly move their body.

As drug abuse is triggered by stress and anxiety, regular movement helps protect the recovering person from the triggers and also reduces usage in the event of relapse

3) Exercise improves your mood

During the detoxification process from drugs or alcohol, your mood can change in a matter of minutes. One minute you’re feeling on top of the world. And the next you feel disheartened and lost again. This behavior is normal during early recovery days.

The reason exercise helps improve the mood is endorphins – the happy hormones released when our body sweats and moves. According to Mayo Clinic, you need to exercise for at least 30 minutes long to have a long lasting effect on your mood.

4) Exercise increases your energy

A famous saying in the recovery industry is “You have to give it away to keep it”. And giving out energy in any form is synonymous with exercise. When you exercise, blood is pushed more aggressively around your body and your heart pumps harder, increasing your overall oxygen levels.

As you get fitter, and your cardiovascular health and physical fitness improve, you’ll find that the daily activities of your life become much easier.

5) Exercise helps you to sleep better

Sleeplessness or problematic sleep is common during recovering addicts. It doesn’t matter what your addiction was – whether it’s a depressant like alcohol or stimulant like cocaine – they all affect your sleep in one way or the other.

One way exercise improves sluggish and tired feelings is by raising your body temperature, which causes the cool down to be faster than during normal activity. This accelerated cooling process helps make sleeping easier. Recovering addicts are often suggested to exercise two to three hours before sleep for better results.

Exercise, whether you are recovering or just looking to improve your overall health and life, business or career in general, is an effective tool.

Whether it’s yoga, team sports, running, aerobics, cycling or just taking a light jog down the street, keep moving to increase your chance at a healthy and sober life.