Everyone knows that physical activity is part of a healthy lifestyle, but exercise can be particularly beneficial for those in addiction recovery. Substance use disorder can be rough on the human organism, causing both mental and bodily harm. Thankfully, tissues and organs in the human body are able to regenerate, adapt, and regrow when given a chance!
Those in recovery are consistently working to improve their brain’s ability to balance dopamine and serotonin, which affect mood and satisfaction. This rewiring can take time, and some get frustrated and feel they’ll never be able to feel happy again. However, exercise is a natural way to get those effects without taking a pill or spending any money!
Exercise stimulates the reward pathway of the brain that’s often damaged by substance misuse. It increases small neural connections in the areas of the brain that can also help calm anxiety, something many people in recovery struggle with. With increased physical activity, the mind and body form a connection that can decrease the urge to “fight or flight” in inopportune times and help people become more resilient.
Building muscles and a sporty physique isn’t the only plus side to exercise; it can also stimulate the brain in a way to form a “sixth sense” around the body, or what scientists call “proprioception.” When moving muscles, joints, and tendons through physical activity, the sensory receptors in the brain begin to self-conceptualize. This helps people garner a more positive self-image and assured attitude towards themselves as a person both physically and mentally.
Having a set daily schedule is vital for patients in addiction treatment. Because their previous days were consumed with substance use, now they have much more time and mental bandwidth to do other things. This can be troubling at times, especially with boredom being a relapse trigger, but creating a routine that involves a daily workout is a great way to keep themselves accountable to their recovery goals.
People in recovery can struggle with their sleep schedule, causing mood shifts, lack of motivation, and anxiety. These side-effects of poor sleep can make it more difficult to fight through relapse triggers and stay the course of treatment. Exercise can help reboot the body’s natural sleep schedule by regulating hormones and metabolism.
Whether it’s hiking, trail walking, running, cycling, or something more involved like weight training, yoga, or various sports—moving the body several times a week is a vital part of long-lasting recovery. Patients in treatment can create valuable connections to their peers through group physical activity while socializing in a safe and drug-free environment while rebuilding their health and social lives.
At Middlesex Recovery, the specialized medical and administrative staff are dedicated to providing life-saving outpatient addiction treatment using a whole-patient approach. With a combination of evidence-based medication-assisted treatment and substance use counseling, each enrolled patient is given the best chance at long-lasting recovery. Call or message us today to learn more about our treatment facilities.