If you’re struggling with overcoming addiction, exercise can help you stay on the path to recovery. Exercise offers many benefits not only for your physical well-being but also for your mental and emotional health.
Exercise Helps Your Emotions, Too
When you exercise vigorously, your body produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins. The “runner’s high” people always talk about is a natural response that is similar to the response you would get from addictive behaviors like recreation drug or alcohol use.
A study done by the neuroscience journal Synapse found that exercise changes the chemical imbalances in your brain due to addictive behaviors. That means that exercise can actually help undo the damage to your brain so you can recover faster. This helps greatly with overcoming addiction.
Stepping outside for some fresh air can instantly improve your mood if you’ve been inside all day. Hiking or biking along a beautiful trail can help you relax and enjoy nature.
Your Mind Will Benefit
Exercise also helps clear and sharpen your mind in the same way meditation does. Much like meditation, physical activity re-establishes the mind-body-soul connection so you feel a greater sense of security and confidence.
Regular exercise improves memory and thinking skills.
When you set and achieve exercise goals for yourself, this boosts self-esteem. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. High self-esteem can also help with overcoming addiction because if you feel good about yourself, you won’t need an emotional pick-me-up as often.
You can also reward yourself for meeting longer-term exercise goals. For example, if you run a mile 5 days a week for a month, you might reward yourself with a massage, a new dress or movie tickets.
Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep, which reduces cravings so you are less likely to indulge in other addictive behaviors such as drinking caffeine, eating a lot of sugar and processed foods, and overeating.
Move Your Body
Physical activity can help you strengthen your muscles, bones, lungs, and heart.
- Brisk walking or running strengthens the bones and joints in your lower body and makes your heart pump more efficiently.
- Weight lifting or toning exercises strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Stair climbing, using an elliptical or riding a bike outdoors or in the gym boost leg strength and heart and lung function.
- Swimming tones the major muscles in your body and gives your heart and lungs a great workout. Plus, you won’t notice that you’re sweating.
- Yoga and pilates strengthen your core (abs), back, arms and legs. They also promote good posture, balance, and flexibility.
Playing sports can promote strength, heart health, and bone density. It’s also a wonderful social activity where you can connect with other people. Having a workout buddy can also help you stay motivated and build that relationship.
If you don’t own a gym membership, do outdoor activities like mowing or raking the lawn, shoveling the driveway or going for a walk, jog or bike ride.
You can also watch exercise videos, play or dance with your kids, or dance with your significant other in your house. Building these relationships can give you support to help with overcoming addiction.
Dance keeps your heart in good shape, and it can enhance muscle strength, coordination and bone density.
If you’re struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Our blog offers free articles on overcoming addictive behaviors, or you can contact us today to find out how Prescott House can help you overcome your struggles.