Addiction is a cruel, but tricky, mistress. Each time you drink or use, your substance of choice activates the neurological reward system and deceives your brain and body into thinking, “This feels great.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some drugs “release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards such as eating and sex do.” In other words, it’s a powerful high you’re trying to overcome. Fortunately, exercise has been found to deliver a similar—but healthy—neurological response.
Benefits of Exercise for Addiction Treatment
While statistics show that people who exercise routinely are less likely to abuse drugs to begin with, we also know that exercise can improve addiction recovery success and help clients develop healthy patterns for their post-rehab life. Benefitting the mind, body, and spirit, appropriate levels of physical exertion have been known to:
- Ward off cravings & withdrawal symptoms
- Boost energy & improve sleep
- Reduce anxiety & depression
- Sharpen mental acuity
- Improve self-esteem & mood
- Promote weight management
- Strengthen muscles & enhance endurance
- Reduce stress & tension
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is “meditation in motion.” When your body is moving, your blood is pumping, and natural levels of endorphins are flowing, you experience mental and psychological benefits, as well. During exercise, you can focus on your body and rediscover what it means to experience a clean-energy boost that doesn’t require harmful chemicals. As a bonus, fitness improves your self-worth and personal outlook and allows you to develop goals and discipline that will serve you well during all phases of addiction recovery.
What type of exercise is beneficial? Choose workouts that pique your interest: cycling, tennis, swimming, running, yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, weight lifting, group exercise classes; anything goes.
Avoid a New Addiction
As healthy as cardiovascular fitness, weight training, and mind-body exercise can be during addiction rehabilitation, it’s important to approach them with moderation. Studies show that, in some cases, those with addictive tendencies may begin to replace drugs with compulsive exercise. The goal is not to substitute one addiction for another, but rather to develop a passion for exercise that renews your body and stimulates your mind.
If you fear you’ve become addicted to exercise as a replacement for drug or alcohol use, we can help. The Coast to Coast Recovery team is experienced in the treatment of addictive behavior, and our services are available to families and individuals struggling with the fallout of drug and alcohol abuse. Dial 800-210-8229 or fill out a confidential online request to learn about treatment options and request payment assistance.