Many people who are struggle with an addiction find that maintaining an exercise program helps them stave off the cravings to use drugs or alcohol, and research shows that this effect isn’t simply a placebo. In fact, people typically experience a physiological reward from the brain after exercise in the form of an increase of endorphins, and it can help strengthen the effects of addiction treatment.
Still, as many premier recovery centers, such as Morningside Recovery, offer access to state-of-the-art fitness centers that give people access to treadmills, free weights, yoga programs and other amenities, it can be difficult for most people to walk into a gym environment and feel comfortable.
Here’s how to get started taking advantage of exercise as a tool to reduce the urge to use substances, cope with anxiety, and get healthy.
Research shows that exercise helps people have more energy and feel happier while reducing anxiety.
Focus Beyond Weight Loss
Despite the way many people fantasize about 6-pack abs, huge biceps or being model-skinny, the benefits of maintaining an exercise program extend far beyond what people see in the mirror. Research shows that exercise helps people have more energy and feel happier while reducing anxiety.
According to fitness experts, associating exercise with differences in physical appearance can be punishing and stressful as obtaining the ideal visual fitness and weight loss goals are often a slow gradual process that can be discouraging to someone seeking instant gratification. Instead, focusing on the pleasurable feelings achieved through the release of endorphins during an exhausting workout is often what helps people to stick to a new fitness routine.
Walk Before You Run
Often, the biggest mistake people make when they decide to start exercising is to make aggressive plans that are ultimately unsustainable. Going too hard too fast can leave people sore, injured, or discouraged, which can derail fitness goals before they gain any traction.
While there are thousands of different opinions as to how to best go about finding a fitness routine, most fitness experts agree that simply adding a basic physical activity to your daily routine is a good way to create a fitness habit. A simple start for many people looking to gain exercise benefits during recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is to walk every day, even at a normal leisurely pace. One study showed that people who walked just 15 minutes a day had a 22% lower risk of death, and while waking everyday can seem like a big commitment for people just starting a fitness regimen, another study showed that exercising for approximately 30 minutes three times a week can add up to three years to a person’s life.
Keep the Program Simple for Maintaining an Exercise Program
While many people will enjoy the pleasurable feelings generated by the endorphins produced by maintaining an exercise program, many people will find that find they are gain inspiration through a larger challenge, such as strength training, yoga, or bodyweight training. For more intense workout programs, many fitness experts recommend the “less is more” approach with workouts between 30 and 60 minutes and repetitions of around 5-10 in 3-5 sets during strength exercises. The idea is that people should feel better after going to the gym, not worse, and implementing a simple approach helps minimize physiological stress hormones that can make your gym efforts less effective by hampering biological progress during the period of rest between workouts.
Putting it All Together
Most fitness experts recommend that people consult a medical professional before starting any new fitness routine. This can be especially true for people who are just starting their road to sobriety, as changes to a person’s body chemistry that happens when newly sober can have varying effects during exercise. Many treatment centers encourage addicts to be active, and starting with a regimen of walking three times a week for 30 minutes can be a helpful way to gain traction for a consistent, healthy routine.
Are You Looking to Achieve a Healthy Sober Lifestyle?
Morningside Recovery offers a wide variety of treatment programs designed to help people work towards sobriety and help them with maintaining an exercise program. For more information about our innovative alcoholism rehab or drug addiction treatments, call us at 855-631-2135. Our helpline is open 24/7 and our specialists will work with you to help find the treatment option that works for you.