When you are using drugs and alcohol to excess, your body and mind both take a real beating. Addiction changes your body chemistry, and once those substances are removed, you may be left feeling anxious, depressed, and sensitive to some of life’s major stressors.
The good news is that it does not take much physical activity to shift the tide on those negative emotions and bring you some positive results. Whether you are new in addiction recovery or have been away from harmful substances for many years, there are several proven benefits to getting regular exercise.
1. Stress Reduction
Stress can be a particular problem in addiction recovery and is something that can lead to relapse if not properly managed. One of the ways that you can reduce and control stress is through exercise. Physical activity releases certain chemicals in the brain and improves circulation, both of which help with stress.
2. Better Sleep
Having problems with sleep is not uncommon in recovery. In fact, many people first began abusing alcohol or drugs in the belief that these substances would help them get the rest they needed. Now that those substances are gone, you will need something non-addictive as a substitute. Regular exercise can improve both your quality and quantity of sleep by properly regulating the body’s temperature.
3. Improved Mood
Mood changes can be associated with addiction recovery, and you can help your body adjust to its new circumstances by teaching it to naturally produce those feel-good chemicals that you sought artificially in drugs. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which provide feelings of happiness and well being. According to the Mayo Clinic, just 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to effect a positive change in mood.
4. Increased Energy
You may be expending plenty of energy when you run, swim, or ride a bicycle, but you will also receive energy in exchange for your efforts. If recovery has left you feeling tired and lethargic at times, regular exercise is one of the ways that you can put some spring back in your step.
5. Stronger Immune System
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health reports that getting regular exercise will help protect your body from certain serious conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
6. Prevent Relapse
Perhaps the greatest incentive to get some regular exercise in addiction recovery is that doing this can help prevent a return to alcohol or drugs. One study found that 69 percent of alcoholics whose rehab program included daily exercise stayed sober 90 days following treatment versus 62 percent who did not get exercise and relapsed.
Exercise as a Potential Treatment for Drug Abuse
While it cannot be the sole treatment, there are studies revealing that regular exercise is a potential treatment for drug abuse. Exercise, when combined with other proven forms of addiction treatment, has been shown to produce protective effects in addiction recovery tied to the neurobiological and behavioral consequences of physical activity.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, the addiction recovery programs at The Recovery Village combine traditional and holistic therapies to create a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Our addiction experts can help you break free from harmful substances and learn a new way to live. Contact us now to find out more about our various treatment options.