Addiction recovery is a whole-person experience. In order to be truly successful, you have to address your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Most rehab programs do a fantastic job of treating the first two. Unfortunately, only 11% of those suffering from addiction receive treatment. Those that do will likely enter a program that doesn’t emphasize the importance of fitness in recovery.
If you’re struggling with an addiction of any kind, keep reading to find out how regular exercise can help you kick the habit for good.
Ease Withdrawal Symptoms and Fight Cravings
An intense workout provides you with a natural, drug-free endorphin “high.” Studies show that it can also reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Aerobic exercise, in particular, has an inverse relationship with substance abuse.
Addictions can have adverse effects on your health, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting a fitness regimen. If you’re still in the withdrawal phase, start with an easy exercise routine and work your way up over time. Even a simple walking program can result in better total health and decreased cravings for cigarettes and alcohol.
Improve Self-Esteem and Mental Health
One of the long-term benefits of exercise is an improvement in conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Physical activity is a great outlet for pent-up negative emotions that you may have suppressed with substances before.
Fitness can also help you rebuild your self-esteem as you create your new “sober identity.” Each workout session is a chance to push yourself and complete difficult challenges. As you continue to succeed over and over again, you’ll begin to feel better about yourself and what you can accomplish.
Add Structure and Accountability to Your Life
A significant portion of addiction treatment focuses on adding structure and accountability back into your life. Keeping up with a long-term, scheduled fitness routine can help you regain the control that you lost to substance abuse.
Consider training for an event like a 5k, half-marathon, or mud run for charity. This is a win-win scenario: it keeps you working toward a specific, achievable goal while you support a cause you believe in. If running isn’t your thing, try signing up for weekly group classes or personal training.
Make New Social Connections
Many people find that their social lives take a serious hit on the journey to sobriety. If most of your relationships were built around substance abuse, exercise and fitness could be your avenue to building new, healthy connections.
To start making friendships through fitness, join a community health club or enroll in a group program such as CrossFit. These are great ways to socialize without finding yourself surrounded by drug or alcohol use.
Best Types of Fitness for Recovery
The best types of fitness for recovery are the ones you enjoy enough to stick with for the long run. So why not try something you’ve always wanted to do, like rock climbing, dance, or swimming? There’s no wrong way to make exercise a healthy part of your recovery journey.
Has fitness helped you to overcome addiction? If so, leave a comment with your success story and make sure to check out our wellness blog for more great health and lifestyle content.