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Exercise and Addiction Recovery: The Benefits

The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health benefits for anyone are well documented. It is not hard to find evidence about how exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life. This knowledge often leads people to wonder what, if any, connection exists between exercise and addiction treatment and recovery. After all, it is easy to wonder how taking a brisk walk, lifting weights, or playing a basketball game can help achieve and maintain sobriety.

Benefits of Exercise

Detox and withdrawal bring about various side effects, including stress, reduced energy, changes in your sleeping patterns, and a depressed or anxious mood. While these symptoms may begin early in your treatment program, they could last well beyond your stay in rehab. This is where exercise becomes beneficial. Engaging in regular physical activity during your recovery can provide you with stress reduction, improved sleep, increased energy, improved mood, and an overall improvement in your mental and physical health.

Why You Should Exercise When Getting Sober

Many things happen to your body when you decide it’s time to seek addiction treatment. Exercise and routine physical activity can help minimize some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with the early stages of sobriety and recovery.

Stress Reduction

Significant stress reduction can be achieved through almost any physical activity that increases your heart rate. Stressful emotions are common during recovery and something that you must learn to manage to achieve long-term sobriety. Regular physical activity is known to alleviate stress in the short and long-term. During exercise, the brain releases serotonin and dopamine, which are known to combat stress. Therefore, developing a healthy routine consisting of regular physical activity can go a long way in helping you return to a place of balance during and after treatment.

Improved Sleep

Sleep disruptions are common, especially during early recovery. Difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or wanting to sleep during the day can leave you feeling tired and devoid of energy. Regular exercise improves sleep by increasing the number of hours you sleep each night and the quality of those hours. As your sleep improves, so does how you feel during the hours you are awake, and you are more likely to feel alert and able to manage the demands of your day without turning to substances. 

Increased Energy

Regular physical activity can help to improve your energy levels over the long term. During exercise, your heart pumps blood more aggressively, and the oxygen levels in your body increase. With regular exercise, the boost in oxygen serves to improve your overall energy levels. Also, your physical and cardiovascular health improve, making your daily activities easier to perform.

Improved Mood

While detoxing from drugs and alcohol, mood changes are expected. Even after the early stages of detox are complete, your mood can still fluctuate day-to-day. When you exercise, endorphins are one of the chemicals released in the body. These are responsible for producing feelings such as happiness and euphoria, both of which are the same feelings that likely initiated and perpetuated continued substance abuse. As a form of stress reduction, regular exercise can improve your mood in both the short and longer terms.

Exercise Helps Your Immune System

When you struggle with substance abuse or addiction, it is common to experience several side effects from chronically ingesting substances. Long-term drug or alcohol addictions can lead to considerable damage in many body systems, especially the immune system. Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, and opioids all affect the immune system to varying degrees. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise helps protect against many elements, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and some cancers. When using exercise as a healthy coping mechanism instead of turning to alcohol or drugs, the physical benefits can help mitigate and reduce the physical consequences of long-term substance use.

Bayshore Retreat Is Here to Help With Your Addiction

Exercise can be a very effective tool during the early recovery process and throughout long-term maintenance and sobriety. Whether it’s yoga, team sports, running, or aerobics, regular exercise can help to increase the chances of continued recovery and improve your overall quality of life. If you are ready to seek addiction treatment and curious about the ways Bayshore Retreat incorporates physical activity into our unique addiction treatment programs, contact us today