Beating addiction is all about switching out the bad habits in favor of good ones that elevate your mood, all naturally, without the use of chemicals. Exercise fits the tab wonderfully and then some, as it provides a whole host of benefits that see the sobering addict obtain a healthier, sprightlier mind, body and spirit, both in the short and long run.
A Healthier High
Exercise emits the same brain-happy substance that drugs produce – endorphins – that lead to feeling giddy and euphoric. Various athletes and exercise enthusiasts speak of the “natural high” that comes to them as a result of exercising. Similar to a chemical high, but decidedly less intense, the effects of going out for a bike ride, or jogging, or swimming can lead to a prolonged wave of all-around mind and body pleasure. This means exercise can do a lot to assuage an addict’s cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Physical and Social Benefits of Exercise
One study of a group of recovering addicts, in fact, found that exercise led to feelings of increased confidence and accomplishment when it came to staying sober. These positive feelings are vital, especially since addicts are subject to sources of daily stress like most of us that may push them closer to relapse.How Exercise Helps You Beat Addiction Click To Tweet
In helping to melt stress away, reduce drug cravings, promote better sleep, restore brain cells and improve self-esteem, among other benefits, the experts say exercise is an excellent way to help an addict beat his or her demons.
Indeed, one landmark study found that high school students who exercised regularly were less likely than sedentary teenagers to abuse marijuana or smoke cigarettes. However, this relationship between drug abuse and exercise may be indirect – those who embrace exercise tend to make healthier choices in general and often choose to hang out with like-minded exercise enthusiasts, friends, and family who support their healthy inclinations.
Benefits of Socializing with the Health-Conscious
This is a terrific thing – by socializing with a health-conscious group of people, these same exercise buddies can help an addict stick to his or her exercise routine, by providing constant motivation, feedback, guidance, and input that makes the recovering addict feel more consciously “hooked” on the sport or exercise routine.
Engaging in team sports or exercise also boosts social and time management skills, but also may give the recovering addict something healthy to do and focus on. Keeping to an exercise routine distracts the sobering addict from thinking about where he or she can get his or her next “fix”.
A Different Effect for A Different Exercise
Here are a few descriptions of the effects of popular exercises that can appeal to an addict in recovery:
Walking in Nature: Studies indicate that walks or hikes in nature can significantly boost dopamine levels in the brain during addiction treatment. A short and sweet 15-minute walk is apparently enough to help a sobering addict fight a craving when it arises.
Yoga: Yoga is renowned as an exercise that calms the mind while giving the body a good workout. It gradually brings you into a state of meditation that alleviates stress and anxiety, which are two factors that typically lead to relapse. Small wonder many rehabilitation programs incorporate yoga as a part of their treatment.
Strength Training: Weight training imparts discipline and significantly builds a body, muscle-wise, which improves the person’s sleep cycle over time. This exercise is especially effective in combating insomnia among sobering addicts.
Team Sports: There’s more to playing in a team sport than just winning (or losing) and getting a good workout. The competition and competition can assist in long-term recovery and help sobering addicts adopt social skills and confidence that help them reintegrate back into the larger community.
Focusing the mind and body on staying fit is a highly beneficial way to help a sobering addict find long-term sobriety. It’s been proven that recovering addicts are more likely to find success during treatment and keep to a healthy exercise routine once they are re-assimilated into the world.