Fitness and Exercise in Recovery

Most people know that exercise is an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle.
Not only does working out have benefits for physical health, but it also improves mental health. Unfortunately, only one in three adults gets the recommended amount of exercise weekly.

For people in addiction recovery, having a fitness regimen is incredibly beneficial. That is why many treatment centers offer exercise courses or group fitness classes. It does not matter what type of exercise you prefer, whether it is weightlifting, yoga, or running. If you are working out consistently, you can reap the rewards.

Why Should Recovering Addicts Make Exercise a Priority?

Exercise is beneficial for people in addiction recovery in a multitude of ways.

Not only does exercise have positive effects on physical health, but it can also improve mental health, which is vital when overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction. Many people view exercise as an outlet for their thoughts and emotions when they feel sad, frustrated, or angry.

Working out allows you to temporarily disconnect from everyday responsibilities so you can live in the present moment. A good exercise routine can help take your mind off negative thought patterns or unhealthy ideas that previously fueled your addiction. For many people, exercising is an effective way to control cravings, especially when you feel unmotivated to stay away from substances.

yoga therapy
In terms of physical benefits, exercise shows mood improvement, improved sleep quality, a boost of self-confidence, weight management, and helps people feel better overall. When you feel good physically and mentally, it becomes much easier to stay sober because you can cope with your thoughts and emotions more healthily.

Studies on Exercise for Addiction Recovery

Exercise is one of the main pillars of a healthy lifestyle when used in conjunction with a nutrient-rich diet.
Although anyone looking to improve their health should make exercise a priority, it is even more crucial for those who are getting addiction treatment. Countless studies have found that outdoor activity is a useful supplementary treatment for recovering addicts.

A 2014 meta-analysis report evaluating 22 studies found that physical exercise effectively eased withdrawal symptoms, reduced anxiety and depression, and reduced cravings in people recovering from addiction. The report found no significant differences in exercise types or levels of intensity. Other studies have linked exercise to improved mood, better sleep, improved self-esteem, and lowered risk of relapse. 

In another study, 20 men and women who abused various substances agreed to work out in a group setting three days per week for up to six months. One year after the study ended, five people had refrained from using substances completely, and ten people reported decreased substance use. Most participants said that exercise improved their quality of life, boosted their energy, and improved their body image.

People who begin an exercise regimen during addiction recovery will reap the benefits. However, research shows that people can use exercise to reduce the risk of becoming addicted to substances in the first place. The meta-analysis determined that regular physical activity during adolescence had a preventive effect on drug and alcohol use in adulthood.

crack cocaine addiction

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

What Type of Exercise is Best During Recovery?

Starting an exercise program for the first time can be daunting, and it can be challenging to start exercising again after a long hiatus.

Studies show that for recovering addicts, the type and intensity of the exercise do not matter. Even stretching and walking can be beneficial for mental and physical health.

Some of the best types of exercise during addiction recovery include:

  • Weightlifting
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Martial arts
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Exercising during addiction recovery is all about consistency. It is better to do light exercise three days per week than to do a heavy strength training session once every two weeks. Everyone has a different baseline level of fitness, so everyone’s fitness journey during recovery will look different.

The types of exercise you choose to focus on during recovery should also compliment your personal fitness goals. For example, if you want to build muscle and lose body fat, weightlifting might be your best option. If you want to improve your endurance or train for a 5k, starting a program that combines running and walking is a great option. If you are looking for something less physically intensive, consider trying yoga to improve your mind-body connection.

The setting is also relevant. For instance, some people feel self-conscious working out at the gym. If that is the case, consider setting up a small gym in your garage, or find workouts you can do in your living room. If you love getting outside, consider hiking or swimming. If you like working out with other people, find a fitness studio near your home that offers group classes.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Addiction Treatment at Nexus Recovery

At Nexus Recovery in Los Angeles, we encourage every client to invest in their health by developing an exercise routine they enjoy.
Clients can participate in yoga classes at our facility, and we also offer nutrition courses to help clients learn more about the importance of a healthy diet during recovery.

We offer four levels of care, with various tracks designed to address every client’s needs. In addition to talk therapy and case management sessions, clients can participate in goal setting courses, mindfulness/meditation training, relapse prevention, group therapy, experiential therapies, group outings, and much more.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, contact Nexus Recovery today at (888) 855-6877 to learn more about our treatment programs.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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