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Lasting Recovery – How Exercise Has An Impact on Your Recovery Journey [Updated June 4, 2019]
June 4, 2019
Lasting Recovery and Exercise: What is the Impact?
Lasting recovery requires adjustments in almost every area of your life. Many in recovery previously neglected exercise in their daily lives. And living in recovery often means adjusting those routines for a healthier, happier approach to life. As a result, many in recovery explore daily or regular exercise as a way to embrace these changes.
Exercise has many benefits – especially for those who are recovering from substance use disorders.
Exercise impacts recovery by:1
- Improving cardiovascular function
- Increasing energy levels
- Growing stronger, healthier bones
- Experiencing better muscle tone and strength
- Reducing levels of body fat
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving quality of sleep
- Reducing blood sugar levels
Another physical benefit of exercise involves dopamine. Exercising causes the brain to release dopamine. And, dopamine is the same reward chemical that is released when receptors in the brain are exposed to alcohol and certain drugs.
Exercising can make you feel good without needing to take substances.
Plus, exercise also has psychological benefits. It can improve your sense of well-being and stabilize your self-esteem. And, when you are fit and healthy, you will feel more confident. Because exercise produces dopamine, people in recovery from substance use disorders will often experience a reduction in the intensity and frequency of cravings if they regularly exercise.
Positive Behavior Affects Recovery
People abuse substances in response to a trigger. And, when people abuse substances for whatever reason, they are essentially engaging in a negative behavior. Usually, that negative behavior requires a trigger.
Treatment for substance use disorders includes helping people to recognize negative behaviors and replace them with healthier ones. And, exercise is a very positive behavior and can help you cope with cravings.
Significant exposure to alcohol or addictive drugs damages the brain. These changes in the structure and chemistry of the brain affect the way you think. That makes it harder for you to identify negative behaviors.
Regular exercise impacts those in recovery in a number of ways. First, by helping to offset the damage caused by substance use. Second, by allowing you to think more clearly. And third, enabling you to make better decisions.
Exercise Impacts Recovery In A Positive Way
Substance use disorders can play havoc with people’s lives. Many people who are afflicted with addiction find virtually all their waking hours are spent thinking about, taking or being under the influence of the addictive substance. When they eventually enter sobriety, it becomes necessary to find other ways to fill the void, and exercise is one of the many good ways they can do this.
After all, people who struggle with addiction often lose all structure and routine in their lives. This result is almost inevitable when they are taking substances.
In recovery, it is beneficial to have a more orderly, structured life.2 People in recovery can help establish beneficial routines by setting aside one or more periods each day dedicated to exercising.
Your exercise regime can be a positive way of socializing. For example, you could join a walking, running or cycling group. By doing so, you combine beneficial exercise with positive social interaction.
You may even find exercise groups in your area that cater specifically to people in recovery. If so, you can get inspiration by exercising with people who deal with the same issues.
Be Mindful of Your Body’s Limitations
You should consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program. This is especially true if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle or you are experiencing medical issues.
It is not advisable to plunge straight into a rigorous exercise regime. You may want to have a physical checkup with your doctor first. You can ask your doctor to advise you on the best types of exercise for you.
Finding Your Inner Strength
Exercise can contribute to lasting recovery, but it is not the only factor. You may find it beneficial to exercise your body and your mind. If so, you can expand your mind while focusing on your recovery journey by reading my best-selling book MAXIMUM STRENGTH.
Inside, you will find stories and anecdotes from my years searching for and attaining lasting sobriety. If you or someone you know is in recovery and looking for strength, order a copy of the book here.
And, you can use these stories to relate to moments in your journey and find strength when you need it most.
Updates June 4, 2019 – Title changed, edited for readability, book added.