5 Ways That Exercise Can Help With Your Sobriety

Your body and mind are both affected when you use drugs and alcohol excessively. Addiction alters the chemistry of your body. You may feel worried, anxious, depressed, and hypersensitive to some of life’s great pressures after removing alcohol from your system. The good news is that exercise can help you overcome these unpleasant feelings and achieve great outcomes. Getting regular exercise or doing any physical activity has a lot of benefits, whether you are fresh from addiction recovery or have been free of drugs for many years.

How can exercise help in alcohol recovery?

There are studied and proven relationships between exercise and alcohol rehabilitation. Exercise helps a person restore healthy endorphins to their body during recovery. These endorphins give off a natural high, which is the same type of endorphins released when people abuse substances.

According to a study, “Accumulating evidence shows that exercise influences many of the same signaling molecules and neuroanatomical structures that mediate the positive reinforcing effects of drugs. These studies have revealed that exercise produces protective effects in procedures designed to model different transitional phases that occur during the development of, and recovery from, a substance use disorder.”

The importance of sticking to a regular exercise regimen in helping to maintain sobriety is often underestimated. Exercise, when combined with other forms of treatment, can prevent relapse by establishing a consistent routine, occupying free time, regulating mental health, and instilling greater self-esteem. Although regular exercise may appear daunting, it only takes a small amount of movement to see the benefits of being active on a regular basis. To know more, read the 5 ways that exercise can help with your sobriety below, and learn how exercise can help heal your mind and body while recovering.

1. Boosts Your Self Esteem and Mood.

Exercise can help reinforce good body image and increase self-esteem, whether your objective is to reduce weight or gain muscle. Taking care of your body, in general, enhances your self-esteem and makes you feel better about yourself. Achieving a fitness goal can boost your confidence and remind you that you are capable of accomplishing difficult tasks. This concept is especially helpful for those in recovery who face daily cravings. One study found that seeing the good results of regular exercise can have a positive effect on former substance users’ overall motivation to change behavior.

Addiction recovery is linked to mood changes, and you may help your body adjust to its new circumstances by training it to naturally make the feel-good chemicals that were previously unavailable. sought artificially through drugs and alcohol. Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, which cause sensations of happiness and well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, 30 minutes of exercise every day is sufficient to produce a favorable mood change. Instead of relying on alcohol or hazardous substances, exercise is a terrific way to obtain a surge of happiness and refresh your attitude towards life.

2. Perfect Outlet and Stress Reliever.

Because withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can increase stress, reducing stress is critical for anyone recovering from a substance use disorder. Exercise has a direct impact on the portion of the brain that regulates anxiety and stress. Both low-intensity and high-intensity kinds of exercise have been proven to lower stress, help people become more aware of their mental condition, and provide mental relief. Stress is a major issue in addiction treatment, and if it is not properly managed, it can lead to relapse. Exercise is one way to reduce and control stress. Physical activity increases circulation and generates feel-good endorphins in the brain, both of which reduce stress.

When a person has struggled with addiction, many areas of life may have become stressful, and even though a person turns to sober living, these stresses could still be present. As a result of the addiction, family relationships might have experienced hurt and need to be rebuilt. Some experience financial turmoil and need to find employment. As a result of addiction, legal issues may also arise and require attention. These are potential stressors of addiction, but exercise as a stress reliever can be helpful while experiencing the stress of addiction.

Physical activity also allows people to focus on their bodies rather than stressors, and it activates pain-relieving chemicals. Regular exercise helps to manage adrenaline, which helps to balance the body’s stress hormone levels. Although adrenaline is a necessary stress hormone for fight-or-flight responses, too much of it can be harmful to one’s general health. Increasing your heart rate during exercise also causes the production of serotonin, an anti-stress hormone that makes you feel better. Instead of turning to a substance, overeating, or lashing out at others, people in recovery should exercise to relieve stress. There is a therapeutic workout for everyone, ranging from cycling to meditation, which can result in increased levels of natural stress-relievers.

3. Keeps You Busy and Disciplined

Many people discover that after they start the recovery process, they have a lot of free time since they are no longer thinking about, buying, or drinking alcohol.  Depending on how you use your free time, it can be a blessing or a curse. Exercise is a terrific way to spend this spare time and can easily fill up several hours each week. It is often beneficial to keep yourself occupied during addiction treatment, particularly in the early stages. Following a regular exercise regimen eliminates the need to make split decisions about what to do with free time throughout the day, which is where incorrect selections are often formed.

Having an exercise goal might also help to divert attention away from your cravings and helps you focus on something more productive. Following a structured pattern is part of what makes regular exercise so effective at reducing cravings. Signing up for gym courses or creating a workout routine gives you a daily routine. Joining a group class or telling someone else about your new workout goal will help you stay on track.

4. Improves Sleep

Sleep issues or insomnia are common while in recovery. Many people start drinking or using drugs because they believe it will help them obtain the rest they need. Regular exercise can improve both the quality and amount of sleep. As the body and mind return to a more normal condition, a lot of people in recovery discover that exercise also helps restore a normal sleep routine. An exercise program resets the body to a more natural schedule, which helps the body return to a more regular sleep cycle over time.

5. Prevents Relapse

The fact that regular movement or any physical activity prevents relapse into alcohol or drug use is one of the best reasons to exercise regularly. According to a number of studies, regular exercise can boost substance abstinence rates by 95%. These studies also discovered that exercise can help in the management of stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which can lead to substance abuse.

What exercises are best for someone in recovery?

There are a lot of exercises to choose from. As long as you enjoy it, there’s truly no right or wrong way to be more active. But to give you an idea, the most common addiction recovery physical activities are:

  • Yoga
  • Cardio 
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Aerobic Classes
  • Dance Classes

Most treatment centers allow their patients to choose the activity that best meets their needs when it comes to exercise. In reality, any type of physical activity can help you heal. So go do some exercise and enjoy your journey to recovery.

Tom Mabe

Tom Mabe is a video creator, comedian, and sobriety advocate. He was an alcoholic and is now sober. He talks and interacts with others live on Facebook and YouTube about addiction, recovery, and sobriety. He created Sober Talk to allow people to tell their stories, ask for help, celebrate their accomplishments, share their struggles, and connect with real people going down the same path.

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