For those in recovery from substance abuse, seeking help and support is critical to making progress on your journey. Counseling, support groups, and a positive outlook are necessary to make headway, but did you know that exercise can also improve your chances of recovery? Let’s learn more about how fitness can help.
What the Science Says
The Chicago Tribune reports that after reviewing the published research, Frontiers in Psychiatryconcluded that exercise can help reduce the abuse of cocaine, meth, nicotine, and alcohol. Another study showed that exercise might have significantly dropped cravings and substance use for heavy marijuana users.
One reason that exercise can help fight addiction is due to endorphins. This chemical in your brain produces a high when you take drugs. However, exercise can also release endorphins. The feeling you get after a good workout is commonly called the “runner’s high.” For those in recovery, this can help replace the craving for a high from drugs or alcohol.
Exercise also boosts serotonin and noradrenaline, which are also triggered by drugs. According to The Fix, athletes claim that exercise helps to keep their moods stable, thanks to this boost.
Greatist reports that some studies show exercise releases galanin, which can lessen stress-related cravings. A good workout that doesn’t overtax your body can reduce stress as well.
While more studies need to be conducted, it’s clear that exercise can help a person in recovery better manage stressors, triggers, and cravings.
Which Exercises are Best
If you are looking for an exercise program, what is the best option? There are several components to look for.
- Before starting any workout routine, check with your doctor to see what sort of activities are best for your health, medical history, age, and body.
- Make sure you are working out at the appropriate level, rather than “overtraining.” According to Quality Health, overtraining is exercising at “an intensity, quantity, and duration that is more than (the) body can recover from.” Overdoing it in this manner will be exhausting and can have physical and behavioral consequences that may lead to depression or anxiety.
- If you have been sedentary for a long time, carefully build up your strength and stamina so you don’t get injured.
Choose exercises that interest you so you will be inspired to stick to your routine.
Some exercises that can benefit you include:
- Running or Power Walking: You can do these anywhere to achieve the so-called runner’s high. Take care to wear the right sneakers. Avoid this exercise if you have leg, foot, or knee injuries.
- Martial Arts:Practicing a martial artwill develop both your mind and body and teach you discipline.
- Yoga:This low-impact exercise can also train you in meditation and deep breathing, helping your mind and body.
In fact, mindfulness practices, such as yoga and tai chi, can help you retrain your brain in healthy ways. Learn more about mindfulness and addiction in this article from Psychology Today.
How to Stay Healthy for the Long Term
You should adapt exercise as one part of a fit lifestyle. To stay healthy for the long term, add these habits as well:
- Better eating habits.Cut down on processed foods, junk food, and sugar and add in more of your favorite produce, legumes, and salads.
- Drink more water.Six to eightglasses a day is recommended, especially if you are exercising.
- Reduce your screen time.It may be bad for your brain, it can strain your eyes, and it will impair your sleep habits.
- Sleep better.Try to sleep at least sixor sevenhours every night. Add a few minutes each night over time to get there. If you struggle with insomnia, talk to your doctor.
Exercise is an important foundation for a healthy lifestyle, particularly if you are in recovery. Don’t wait. Talk to your doctor today and find a fitness routine that works for you.