How Does Exercise Help Addicts in Recovery?

Exercise during recovery

For most people in recovery from an addiction, treatment involves some sort of counseling: speaking with another individual or a group of people to figure out the root cause and to learn how to manage any feelings or emotions that could lead to a future relapse.

Recovering from an addiction is all about making lifestyle changes. It turns out, there’s one lifestyle change in particular that makes a great supplementary tool for overcoming an addiction. That lifestyle change is exercise.

Exercise is a habit that changes many people’s lives, addicted or not. It can help people lose weight, reduce stress, and become happier. But how does it help someone who is in recovery from addiction?

The General Benefits of Exercise

We know exercise can help promote overall health. When we’re looking at exercise as a treatment for addiction, one of its more important benefits is its ability to improve a person’s mood and raise their self-esteem.

For many people, simply taking care of themselves by exercising for an hour or so each day can help them think of themselves in a more positive way, which, in turn, encourages them to continue taking care of themselves.

The Release of Feel-Good Hormones

Many drugs flood the brain with pleasure hormones called endorphins. The endorphin rush is the feeling that many users become addicted to.

Exercise also produces a rush of endorphins, but in a much healthier way. By opting to work out when a substance craving hits, a person is giving their brain the pleasurable feeling it’s looking for, producing that neurological reward.

The Treatment of Withdrawal Symptoms

When an addicted person chooses to disengage from the substance or behavior they were addicted to, it can often produce withdrawal symptoms like depression, irritability, headaches, lethargy, and more.

As we mentioned earlier, some of the core benefits of exercising include raising mood, reducing anxiety and stress, and promoting better, more restful sleep.

Exercise Types to Try

Everybody and every body is different, so the types of exercises that are effective and enjoyable for one person may not be for another.

Exercises like hiking, walking, yoga, or team sports like basketball or soccer are great for someone who is trying to ease into working out. For someone looking for more of a challenging workout, hitting a gym for strength or cardio training also works great.

Remember, it’s always recommended to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen

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