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Why is Exercise Important in Recovery?

Addiction recovery is a time of healing mentally, physically, and spiritually. To enhance our rate of healing, it can be beneficial to begin an exercise routine. Exercising not only provides major physical benefits, but can also provide mental health benefits that can keep us in a state of happiness, joyousness, and freedom, and aid us in maintaining our sobriety.

Exercise and physical activity cause the brain to release endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals that reduce perceptions of pain and lead to an increased sense of well-being. Endorphins can also reduce stress, improve sleep, and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. According to Your First Step, “Of all the relapse triggers you can succumb to, stress is arguably the most common. The combination of environmental stresses and wide swings of emotion can make you feel like you can’t cope with daily life. In this vulnerable state, you may be tempted to return to drugs and alcohol. Instead of turning to substances to cope, turning to exercise is a healthy alternative.” Succumbing to feelings of depression and anxiety can lead us to using drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. Exercise can effectively reduce these negative emotions and keep us in a state of health and happiness conducive to engagement in a recovery program.

Research has shown that exercise may be particularly useful to those in recovery from alcoholism. According to a Behavior Modification article entitled Aerobic Exercise for Alcohol Recovery: Rationale, Program Description, and Preliminary Findings, “Exercise may benefit alcoholics attempting recovery from alcohol problems through a number of different mechanisms of action. Exercise may (a) provide pleasurable states without the use of alcohol, (b) reduce depressive symptoms and negative mood, (c) increase self-efficacy, (d) provide positive alternatives to drinking, (e) decrease stress reactivity and improve coping and (f) decrease urges to drink.”

Gaining physical benefits from exercise can also improve mental health. When we get into better shape, our self-confidence improves. Your First Step explains, “As you add more time and/or intensity to your regimen, you’ll see the physical and mental health benefits that come with it and you’ll start to feel stronger and more competent in other areas of your life. Incorporating exercise in sobriety will give you the confidence that will transcend other areas in your life, including your ability to meet the challenges you’ll face in your recovery.” Beginning a simple exercise regimen can be an effective addition to our daily recovery and we will soon find that we are reaping major mental and physical health benefits.

Your life can become one of health and happiness in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help today and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in Shreveport, Louisiana, features miles of pristine walking trails with the opportunity to enjoy other outdoor activities in a temperate southern climate, as well as an indoor gym to support the healing of the mind, body, and spirit. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431