Exercise has a ton of benefits for a person’s mental health and can do a lot to aid an addict in recovery. It doesn’t have to be complicated, either! Simply heading outside for a 30-minute walk each day is enough to receive the benefits. Alternatively, training for a marathon, taking up yoga, or working on strength sets with a personal trainer are also great choices.
If you have a loved one who is currently recovering from addiction, encourage him or her to add exercise to their daily routine. Here are five benefits of exercise for a recovering addict:
Adds Structure to the Day
When your loved one is in recovery, it’s important and beneficial for them to have a sense of routine. By having a scheduled time for exercise each day, it can provide your loved one with comfort, and encourage them to be productive and stay out of trouble. They can’t go out for drinks with their coworkers after work if they have to get to the gym for their spin class.
Exercising also takes up time. This can help eliminate boredom and reduce the amount of free time your loved one has to think about using.
The more your loved one takes care of themselves, the more they’ll want to continue taking care of themselves.
Exercise is one of the many self-care habits that can be addicting (in a positive way!). Simply taking a bit of time for themselves each day can cause them to feel more positively about themselves. In turn, the positive self-thinking can encourage them to want to take better care of themselves going forward.
Heals the Brain
It’s easy to see that regular exercise can help to heal and strengthen the body, but did you know it’s also useful for healing the brain?
Research has shown that exercising does a lot to help the brain: The increased heart rate pumps more oxygen into the brain, it encourages the release of hormones, and stimulates new connections between brain cells.
Exercise produces a rush of endorphins, the same feel-good hormones that many illicit drugs produce. Exercising is a much healthier way to get this feeling.
Endorphins are a stress response, meant to prevent the perception of pain by creating a feeling of pleasure. Exercising for 150 minutes over the course of a week can cause a steady, natural release of endorphins. In the fitness world, this is known as “runner’s high”, but it’s not only caused by running.
Treats Some Withdrawal Symptoms
As your loved one recovers from his or her addiction, they may begin feeling symptoms like headaches, irritability, anxiety, lethargy, etc.
Some of the core benefits of exercise are the reduction of these feelings – exercise can stabilize mood, lower stress, and promote more restful sleep. If your loved one is experiencing any of these mild physical symptoms, encourage them to try exercising for an hour or so.