I will never forget the first few weeks of my recovery. It was in those darkest moments when I showed my inner strength. As I battled the withdrawal symptoms, I reached out for anything to help tame the pain. Exercise was one those things that naturally aided in my recovery. I felt my spirits lift, my body strengthen, and my mind sharpen. Physical exercise is known for its many benefits, and here are six specific benefits of working out during addiction treatment.
Reverses the Effects of Stress
Recovering from an addiction is incredibly stressful. I had to make major changes in my life to ensure a successful recovery. Change is one of the biggest stress triggers, but exercise can battle this with the positive chemicals it produces. Norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are all “happy” chemicals that lower stress levels. What is even more incredible is that exercise can reverse aging caused by stress.
Coming off of drugs was the hardest mental challenge of my life. It sent me into a whirlwind depression; without drugs, I was completely vulnerable to the world. I had nothing and felt like nothing. When I embraced yoga, I instantly felt the positive effects from working out. Depression damages areas of the brain, but exercise stimulates cell growth to help repair this damage. The connections made between nerve cells acts as a natural antidepressant.
Life improvements and accomplishments are things everyone needs to experience. Setting exercise goals is a way you can track improvements and focus your attention on something healthy. Yoga was my outlet. As I mastered positions and felt my arms and legs strengthen, my confidence began to grow. Exercise has been proven to boost self-image and self-esteem when you need it the most during recovery.
Gives a Feeling of Euphoria
I remember someone telling me that “running is an addiction.” It sounded strange that something so painful could be addicting, but when the body sprints with bursts of speed, a feeling of euphoria is produced. This is a healthy “high” that your mind and body can crave, and it will decrease the edge and cravings you might have for drugs or alcohol.
Increases Cognitive Function
It’s not news that drugs and alcohol slow down brain function and even cause permanent damage with excessive use. To help the brain stay fit, simple exercises like walking can prevent memory loss and cognitive decline. Exercise can also help the brain heal from the damage caused by an addiction. As you challenge your mind with sports and physical activity, the brain makes new connections that can replace damaged ones. This can be the best way to get your body and mind back to full health.
Eases Withdrawal Symptoms
The first few months of recovery are incredibly painful, but exercise is a natural way to help with these painful symptoms. The endorphins produced and brain cell connections make the withdrawal effects milder so you can manage them more easily. As you exercise and experience multiple benefits, you can have the strength and mind power to successfully recover from an addiction.