By: Kristin Fisher
Exercise may not be your favorite thing to do. Too often, it might be the last thing you want to think about when you’re trying to maintain your sobriety. But the truth is that regular workouts, or any kind of physical activity, can be an integral part of your efforts to stay sober. Research even backs it up!
Studies suggest that adding exercise to addiction treatment (counseling, self-help support groups and/or medication) can strengthen the effects of recovery. How? Studies have shown that exercise leads to a sense of accomplishment and feeling stronger. This leads to improved health and increased confidence in staying sober. Not only that, but exercise releases our natural feel good chemicals, endorphins. The key is to find something you enjoy doing and build it into your weekly routine!
Exercise relieves and reduces stress. Exercise has been shown to reduce both physical and psychological stress. Tension builds in our bodies when we’re at work or during everyday interactions. The same is true even when we’re watching television. This tension can come from having poor posture or having a bad interaction with a co-worker. Moving your body reduces this tension. It allows you to get rid of any negative emotions you have been keeping in.
Exercise naturally and positively alters your brain chemistry. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which create a natural high. These are the same endorphins your body released while you abused substances. Regular physical activity during treatment and recovery will help you reintroduce natural levels of endorphins in your system. This not only helps you feel better, but re-teaches your body to regulate your own brain chemistry and mood in healthy, natural ways.
The Mayo Clinic has described exercise as “meditation in motion,” meaning by concentrating on the physical we can experience the psychological and emotional benefits of meditation. Through movement, we can refocus our thoughts on our own well-being. This allows us to forget, at least briefly, all that is going on in our lives. You may leave your workout with a clearer mind, feeling more rejuvenated and optimistic. Finding this clarity within chaos can make recovery much more manageable.
Exercise is Meditation in Motion!
Exercise improves your outlook. Those who exercise regularly report increased feelings of self-confidence and optimism. Moreover, reduced feelings of depression and anxiety have also been reported. This in part has to do with the body regulating and calibrating itself during exercise. But, it also has to do with feelings of accomplishment, pride, and self-worth as you see your body transform and your goals reached. As you reach certain benchmarks you feel more accomplished, and this reinforces the goal of continued sobriety as attainable.