The positive effects physical activities have on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health have been praised for years. But is there a relationship between exercise and recovery from addiction? Can hitting the gym or going for a run do anything to help people stay clean and sober?
What is involved in the addiction recovery process?
According to the American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory, addiction treatment has four phases. The experience may vary from person to person. Still, in general, individuals who undergo and complete an addiction rehabilitation program can expect to go through at least four phases of addiction treatment:
Addiction rehabilitation involves extensive and targeted therapy to eradicate an individual’s behavior of looking for drugs, teach healthier ways to cope, and instill prevention skills to help the patient refrain from going into relapse.
During the intake process, the substance rehabilitation facility will meet a professional to develop treatment options and look for the best possible ways to help a patient recover. In the detox process, the harmful and addictive substances are removed from the body. The rehabilitation stage includes addressing the reasons that pushed the patient into substance abuse. This stage of addiction treatment allows an individual to effectively address their triggers and move forward without going back to substance abuse. Aftercare involves continuous guidance to help an individual avoid falling back into addiction or relapsing.
How does physical activity come into the picture?
During addiction treatment and recovery, the body adjusts to working without the substance it is addicted to. In short, the body is changing rapidly, and to patients, this change may be unbearable while it happens. But there is no denying that the positive effects of the adjustment will be helpful in the long run.
The sudden changes can give individuals under treatment stress, fatigue, and anxiety. This is the part where engaging in physical activities become crucial. Here are some reasons why:
1. Exercise helps reduce stress
For all people, going under addiction treatment or not, physical activities are effective ways to cut stress instead of popping a beer bottle open or using illegal substances as coping mechanisms. Using physical activities is the better way to cope with personal and professional stress, instead of abusing harmful substances that will lead to addiction and health complications.
2. Regular exercise promotes better sleep
During addiction treatment and recovery, it is common for patients to have trouble sleeping, especially during the early days. Both stimulant and depressant substances create disruptions in sleep patterns. Long-term abuse will lead to ruined sleep cycles. The recovery phase will be filled with sleepless nights due to the patient being awake during the time they are trying to sleep.
Exercising will give the body enough fatigue and use up stored energy to make a person fall asleep at the right time.
3. Increases energy levels
Individuals recovering from addiction may feel tired all the time. It is because their bodies are trying to get used to the changes in their lifestyles. They may show signs of being lethargic or unable to engage in activities they used to engage in before recovery.
Using exercise is a good way to boost energy levels because it helps oxygen levels in our bodies stay regulated. More exercise would mean that the body will be stronger and have the ability to perform daily tasks.
4. Regular exercise can keep the mood up
Part of the recovery process is the frequent mood changes brought by the discomfort individuals under treatment feel. The changes in their bodies are not easy for them to get accustomed to. During exercise, the body releases endorphins. Research shows that these hormones are in charge of producing feelings such as happiness and euphoria. Therefore, exercising to ease mood swings is an excellent way to make the recovery process easier.
5. Exercise helps protect the body from sickness
Exercise has numerous benefits. These include making our body strong and durable enough to lessen our chances of getting illnesses in the heart, getting a stroke, getting diabetes, or cancer. This is one of the most important reasons why doctors promote regular exercise to their patients—it is effective and can protect us from mental and physical discomfort.
If you are someone reading this to know if you are doing your treatment justice, you are. Listen to what your doctors tell you, exercise, and fight off the urges you get because of external and internal factors. Engage in activities that will capture your attention and stay healthy.