One of the things mentioned during nearly every addiction recovery program is how important it is to eat right and exercise throughout your sobriety. Not only do these things help get a body that has been beaten down back into shape, but exercise also offers other benefits that can ease cravings and keep you back on track. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
The Benefits of Exercise On Addiction Recovery
Exercise Can Provide Structure
- One of the biggest things you learn in addiction recovery is that it helps to have a structure in your days because you need to fill in all that time previously spent imbibing. Joining a class that meets at a specific time, exercising with a group, or even creating your own daily schedule will all add more structure to your life.
Exercise Increases Your Mood
- Exercise causes your brain to release those feel-good chemicals, endorphins. Everyone can benefit from that. In addition, as you watch your ability grow, find yourself walking further in less time, feeling healthier, you will gain pride in yourself that will want you to continue.
Exercise Increases Brain Growth
- This is a scientific reality. While addicted, many pathways in your brain shut down from lack of use. When you exercise, the brain begins to utilize areas of the brain that have been lying quietly. This then helps create more neural pathways that lead to positive thoughts and feelings. Your brain begins to grow and come back alive.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Promotes Sleep
- Think about a time when you were angry or upset and started pacing. At first, you may have been doing so at a very quick pace. As you continued, your steps began to slow, your mind began to clear, and you started to feel calmer. Exercise allows you to work off any negative emotions in a constructive way. As they dissipate, you can replace them with more positive ones. Once the stress is reduced, you can sleep deeper. This helps promote healing and overall rejuvenation of your body and mind.
Exercise Can Decrease Cravings
- In studies, people trying to break free from nicotine addiction have been benefited by exercising through cravings, making quitting easier. This has also been the case with marijuana. While exercising, your mind becomes distracted as you focus on your body and the movements. Exercise helps you practice mindfulness and gives you a way to distract yourself from the cravings until they pass.
Exercise Can Create Connections
- Exercising alone can be boring and that is why many people give up. However, there are many others who will be interested in the same type of exercise you choose. Having this common interest can help you make connections with people that you might not otherwise meet. These will be healthier connections. There are many walking and biking clubs. Simply joining a gym and maybe taking one class is another option. There are even some groups made up of others who are on the same sobriety journey as you. They will have the same interest and understand your journey.
Success Breeds Success
- The more you find yourself improving in your chosen activity, the better you will feel. The better you feel mentally and physically, the more you will want to feel this. Your success will spread throughout all the areas of your life.
Exercise doesn’t have to be hours of weight-lifting, running a marathon, or aiming for the Olympics. Your addiction recovery plan will most likely have you start slow. Start a walking routine, join a yoga group, or try Zumba dancing. Whatever gets you moving and causes you to enjoy the time will work. You can do this!