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When overcoming addiction, it can seem almost impossible to focus both on curbing your addictive impulses and maintaining a fitness regimen. Both involve a huge amount of self-control, and it is easy to feel like you do not have enough of it to go around.
However, fitness and addiction recovery go hand in hand. An exercise routine can help you achieve your recovery goals faster, while implementing practices that will make you less likely to relapse down the line. Here are a few ways that physical fitness can help you on your road to recovery.
Stress is the leading reason for relapse. Despite any progress they have made, people often will turn to their substance or behavior of choice as a coping mechanism to stress. This is one of the main reasons why exercise and fitness can be crucial to ensuring a full recovery.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it is well-established that exercise reduces stress and anxiety. When your body is healthy, your mind is healthy as well. You are less likely to experience anxiety due to poor mental and physical health or lack of sleep, and when you do feel stressed you have a healthy way to deal with it.
Giving You A Routine
Several experts agree that routine is important to addiction recovery. A routine means stability and consistency, which are both cornerstones of many organized recovery programs. Having an organized routine also eliminates boredom, which can easily lead to you relapsing into old behaviors.
When creating your new fitness goals and habits, make sure to keep them structured. Define exactly when you are going to exercise, for how long and what you are going to do. Set yourself achievable and measurable goals that you can focus on and track as your physical fitness improves.
Physical fitness also can help your addiction recovery by improving your confidence and self-esteem. It’s not just about your physical appearance, although that is likely to improve as you become stronger. Achieving your fitness goals will make you feel in control of your progress. This means you are likely to develop a more positive, confident approach to other aspects of your life, including your ability to make a full recovery from your addiction.
Replacing Your Endorphins
People become addicted to certain substances and behaviors because they produce a rush of endorphins, which are responsible for the sensation of a ‘high’. Studies have shown that exercise is a great support tool for recovery because it also produces endorphins, meaning it can be a healthy coping mechanism for whenever you feel the impulse to relapse.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines wellness as a multi-dimensional concept, incorporating emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental and spiritual elements.
The great thing about exercise and fitness is that it can fulfill several of those needs at once. As well as obviously enhancing your physical well-being, you can improve:
- Environmental wellness by exercising outdoors and in nature
- Social wellness by working out with other people
- Occupational wellness by deriving a sense of achievement from your progress
- Emotional wellness by using exercise to reduce stress and practice self-care
By choosing to incorporate fitness into your addiction recovery, you are helping yourself lead a healthier life in every possible way, not just physical.
Maintaining and improving your physical fitness is a great way to support and enhance your addiction recovery. Exercise can improve your mental health, confidence and ability to cope with stress and boredom. Whether you decide to run a 5K or simply commit to a walk in the park twice a week, setting and fulfilling your fitness goals will help you on your way to a full and healthy life.