The Importance of Exercise Combined with Recovery
Whether it’s due to alcohol or drug abuse, dealing with addiction often seems impossibly difficult. Not only have long-term habits become entrenched in your routine, but your brain also actively craves the chemicals released as a result of the abuse. However, by creating new habits, routines, and neural pathways through physical exercise, it is possible to move on. Here is a quick look at how exercise can help the recovery process.
How Exercise Helps Recovery
Indulging an addiction releases positive chemicals called endorphins in the brain, which cause the feeling of being high. Exercise, however, also releases endorphins, along with additional boosting chemicals which combine to create the feeling of a stronger, natural high. This will immediately help with withdrawal. Particular types of physical activity also reduce the number of stress hormones present in the body, putting addicts in withdrawal through less psychological trauma.
Another mental effect comes from sustained exercise — seeing your body become more physically fit is a clearly evident positive development, which helps foster a good mindset and independence from the substances. Finally, in addition to its physiological effects, exercise can also function as a distraction; by substituting exercise in the times formerly occupied by substance abuse, addicts can reshape their routines, then sleep more heavily in the night.
The Best Kinds of Exercise
There are as many different varieties of exercise as there are people. However, choose the exercise that fits your needs and tastes. Don’t pick a buzzworthy routine just because it’s popular in the news; if you choose something you actually enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it, and that is where real value arises.
Aerobic exercise should be the foundation of your exercise program due to its many health benefits and weight-loss capabilities. Cardio features a range of exercises, including running, swimming, cycling, and more. Like swimming, walking is easy on your joints and can be enjoyed by all ages. With a good pair of shoes and proper technique (for instance, having a straight back, brisk pace, and steady gait), walking can be a great addition to your program. The other major category of exercise is strength training, which usually involves weights and helps strengthen your bones and muscles.
Experts recommend spreading your workout across the weight, hitting particular muscle groups one day, then letting them rest the next. When lifting weights, focus on proper form and remember to breathe. Whatever kind of exercise regimen you concoct, the most important thing is to stay consistent with it.
Workouts for Your Mental Health
Exercise — particularly cardio — can have a great impact on your mental health, even outside of its positive effects on addiction. Recent studies show that aerobic exercise builds the part of the brain that controls reasoning and executive functions, which may help curb Alzheimer’s disease and general memory loss while improving cognition. Exercise makes your heart beat faster, which improves blood flow and circulates more oxygen through the body, which helps protect neurons from degeneration. Finally, the chemicals released as a result of this process also help to reduce anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Consistency Is Critical
Remember, in order to experience the full range of the positive effects of exercise, it is necessary to sustain the routine over the long term. About a month is necessary for a habit to fully develop, so push through even when it’s inconvenient. Start at a particular time each day or involve a friend to have some accountability.
Whether you are currently struggling with an addiction or just looking to become more healthy in general, some form of exercise is right for you. Once you’ve found an exercise routine you enjoy, follow it through for at least a month to create a habit, then have fun on the journey to becoming an overall healthier person.