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Exercise brings with it many benefits, including for those who are recovering from substance use disorders. The ways that exercise impacts recovery include:1

  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Increased energy levels
  • Stronger, healthier bones
  • Better muscle tone and strength
  • Reduced levels of body fat
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Reduced blood sugar levels

Another physical benefit of exercise is that it causes the brain to release dopamine. 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.

Exercise also has psychological benefits. It can improve your sense of well-being and stabilize your self-esteem. 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

When people abuse substances for whatever reason, they are essentially engaging in a negative behavior in response to a trigger. Treatment for substance use disorders includes helping people to recognize negative behaviors and replace them with healthier ones. 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, making it harder for you to identify negative behaviors. Regular exercise impacts recovery by helping to offset the damage caused by substance use, allowing you to think more clearly and 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.

People who struggle with addiction often lose all structure and routine in their lives 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 used as a positive way of socializing. You could join a walking, running or cycling group, for example. By doing so, you combine beneficial exercise with positive social interaction.

You may even be able to find exercise groups in your area that cater specifically to people in recovery. You can get inspiration by exercising with people who have been through the same issues as you have.

Be Mindful of Your Body’s Limitations

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.

Give us a call or come visit our California Recovery Treatment Center


References:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20150622/benefits-exercise-insulin-fat#1
  2. https://archives.drugabuse.gov/TXManuals/IDCA/IDCA11.html
How Exercise Impacts Recovery
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