If you are in early recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction chances are your body has seen better days. In active addiction, most people pay little attention to nutrition and exercise, leading to eventual vitamin deficiencies, a depleted immune system, and a paunchy physique as time and energy were diverted toward acquiring, using, and recovering from the drug of choice. Once the mind clears in sobriety and you begin to focus on the consequences of the addiction, you may be startled at the poor state of your physical health.
Thankfully, the body is resilient and, with some consistency and dedication to overall wellness, it can rebound. Making fitness a priority can provide a multitude of benefits for the individual in recovery. Exercise and addiction recovery is an excellent combination for renewing strength, confidence, and hope in achieving a fulfilling life.
Exercise and Addiction Recovery: The Protective Effects of Physical Activity
While it has been widely understood in the recovery field for years that exercise is beneficial to individuals in addiction recovery, there is actual research that helps indicate how and why that is. In an article by Mark A. Smith and Wendy J. Lynch published in Frontiers in Psychology entitled “Exercise as a Potential Treatment for Drug Abuse: Evidence from Preclinical Studies,” the authors explain how epidemiological studies, or how certain determinants can influence disease development or progression, demonstrate the protective effects of exercise for the recovering addict. The article states that “Collectively, these studies have provided convincing evidence to support the development of exercise-based interventions to reduce compulsive patterns of drug intake in clinical and at-risk populations.”
In their study featuring rats who had access to a running wheel in the home cage, they found that the effects of running lasted beyond the exercise period, reducing the rats drug-seeking behavior after a period of abstinence. This, they posit, demonstrates how exercise may be effective at preventing relapse. They conclude by stating that the neurobiological effects of exercise can serve as an alternative non-drug reinforcer of sobriety.
How Early in Recovery Should Exercise Begin?
Considering the multiple realms that exercise and addiction recovery seem to work in tandem for positive outcomes, there is no reason to delay integrating regular physical activity into the recovery process. Starting in rehab, where most programs provide recreational activities or a gym, the individual can begin the process of restoring physical health while enjoying the psychological benefits of exercise.
Cardio-based activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, dance fitness, running, and swimming are excellent options to include in the recovery routine. Cardio or aerobic, exercise involves the pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart, delivering it to the working muscles. This works the lungs, heart, and muscles simultaneously, providing many health benefits.
5 Benefits of Exercise in Recovery
When you set aside a certain amount of time each week for physical activity you are sending a subliminal message to yourself that you care about your health and wellbeing. As the results of regular exercise start to become apparent, it will inspire you to continue on this positive, healthy trajectory in recovery. The primary benefits of combining exercise and addiction recovery include:
- Decreases stress while increasing resilience to stress. Stress is the number one foe of someone in early recovery, having the potential to induce a relapse. Regular physical activity will improve circulation and release brain chemicals leading to stress reduction. Over time, pushing oneself physically can create stronger mental stamina over stressful situations.
- Improves overall mood. It will take time to correct brain chemistry so that it will begin producing dopamine naturally again. Meanwhile, exercise is known to cause a release of endorphins and serotonin, boosting mood naturally.
- Boosts confidence. The sense of accomplishment that you get from completing a task, even a round of golf or a brisk walk, can help boost confidence in yourself. As you get stronger and begin to feel better, you slowly build up a renewed sense of self-worth.
- Promotes physical health. Just getting outside and moving your body can begin the process of restoring health. Regular exercise has enormous positive effects on all bodily systems, improving heart health, stamina, energy level, muscle strength, joint mobility, and increased immune response.
- Improves sleep quality. Regular physical activity helps to regulate body temperature, reduce stress, and promote relaxation, all beneficial to getting quality sleep. The energy expended in exercise can translate to getting more hours of sleep as well.
Golf Drug Rehab Incorporates Golf and Fitness Into Addiction Recovery Program
Golf Drug Rehab is a luxury rehabilitation center located in Orange County, California. As implied in the name of the program, Golf Drug Rehab places an emphasis on the fitness component of recovery, offering access to three deluxe golf courses in the local vicinity for its clients. Golf Drug Rehab combines outdoor activity with a powerful arsenal of proven evidence-based therapies for excellent recovery results. For more information about how the program meshes exercise and addiction recovery, please contact Golf Drug Rehab today at [phone_number]