Why Does Fitness Aid Addiction Recovery?

Anyone who has attempted an addiction recovery can attest to the fact that it is not a simple process. Because addiction is considered to be a mental illness, many people assume that addiction recovery only treats mental health. However, this is far from the truth. To achieve a holistic sense of wellbeing through recovery, addicts must also strive to heal the physical body as well.

The Role of Fitness in Recovery

One of the most noticeable benefits of fitness is its effect on a person’s confidence. Many addicts feel shame and guilt for falling so deeply into addiction. Participating in exercise or a sporting activity is a great way to work through these confidence-damaging feelings and build the self-assurance that is so essential to addiction recovery.

In addition to building confidence, fitness plays a key role in mental and emotional regulation. Many recovering drug and alcohol addicts experience mood swings, anxiety, or depression before they are able to pull their lives back together. Exercise creates these calming effects by altering the amounts of certain chemicals in the body. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, contribute to emotional wellbeing and are released when a person exercises.

Fitness can also reduce drug and alcohol cravings in the same way that it promotes mental wellbeing. Many of the neurotransmitters released while exercising are those that are stimulated when a person uses drugs or alcohol. In this way, exercise can serve as a replacement for the chemically driven euphoria that substances abusers seek.

Physical activity may also help recovering addicts to redevelop hobbies that were lost to addiction. Addicts frequently give up many hobbies to use drugs, and they are eventually left with no other interests. Recovery is the best time to start discovering new hobbies, including exercise, to fill the void created by addiction. As an added benefit, recovering addicts may develop a whole new support system from those people they meet while participating in exercise or sports.

The Best Forms of Physical Activity for Recovery

There are countless forms of fitness to consider, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. When considering which form of fitness to become involved in, you must consider what it is you want to get out of the physical activity as well as what your current abilities are. Some common forms of fitness in recovery include walking, running, weight lifting, yoga, and sporting activities.

Running is a great form of fitness for recovering addicts, as it temporarily increases heart rate and causes a surge of feel-good neurotransmitters. However, not everyone is fit enough to run safely, especially those who previously had a low tolerance for exercise. These people may benefit from a walking routine prior to running.

Another popular form of fitness used to aid addiction recovery is yoga. Yoga is a practice that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit to promote a united and holistic sense of wellbeing. Because it places such a strong focus on mental wellbeing, many addicts find yoga to be one of the most beneficial forms of fitness during recovery. Additionally, there are many classes geared toward beginners, so those who are unfamiliar with the practice can participate to their fullest ability.

Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for addiction.