10 percent of Americans today say they’re in recovery from substance addiction. That’s 32 million people trying to stay sober despite insanely high relapse rates.
What’s one thing that can make staying sober easier?
Exercise. Study after study has shown how beneficial exercise is for recovering addicts. It helps with physical cravings, cognitive improvement, and emotional dependence.
If you or someone you love is struggling with sobriety, keep reading. Here are seven ways recovery fitness can help.
1. It Makes You Feel Good
There’s a reason fitness is a passion for so many people; it feels good! Getting your heart rate up and moving your body triggers your brain to produce endorphins.
Endorphins are the feel-good hormones. They act as natural painkillers and aren’t unlike the feelings a drug addict gets when using.
You can trigger the release of endorphins by doing any type of strenuous exercise. Running, HIIT workouts and Zumba are all great examples.
For recovering addicts, getting a natural fix of endorphins can distract them from substance cravings. You can still enjoy a feeling of euphoria but from a healthy source.
Consider adding 30 minutes to 1-hour of exercise into your daily routine. Switch it up each day so you don’t get bored.
2. It Provides Structure
Your life as a recovering addict looks different than your life as an active user. The daily routine you had as a user could be triggering to maintain now. Creating a new routine for your sober lifestyle is key.
Exercise is helpful in creating that new routine. Many rehab facilities, like the one you can view here, offer fitness recovery as part of their programs.
By sticking to a workout at the same time every day, you create a structure for yourself. The time that you might have once spent sourcing your next fix is now spent on the treadmill.
Having structure is important for recovering addicts because boredom triggers cravings. If you can occupy your day with productive and healthy activities, there’s less idle time to get tempted.
3. It Relieves Stress
For many leaving inpatient treatment programs, entering the real world is scary. It’s stressful, overwhelming, and uncertain.
At this pivotal part of your life, don’t succumb to the stress. Avoid getting tempted to use by letting stress get the best of you.
Exercise is one of the best stress relievers you can try. Many people feel like they leave their stress on the mat with their sweat.
The energy you feel building up inside when you get stressed needs to be healthily expressed. Recovery fitness is an awesome tool to relieve it and stay focused on your sobriety.
4. It’s Helpful for Finding Sober Peers
Group fitness classes are amazing for bringing people together. Are most of your friends still using? Are you staying away from them to protect your recovery?
Chances are, you might get lonely as you forge your new life.
Consider using fitness to make new friends. The things you have in common with these people likely won’t be using. It’ll be an excitement for the future, self-esteem, and an interest in self-improvement.
If you enjoy playing sports, consider joining an intramural sports team. Feeling part of a team and depended on is amazing. It’ll help you feel supported in your sober journey.
5. It Increases Self Confidence
One common result of drug addiction is a loss of self-confidence. Perhaps you don’t know who you are anymore. Or, you’re carrying around baggage and guilt over your previous lifestyle.
You deserve to feel confident in yourself; you deserve to allow yourself to move on.
Working out has a spiritual way of restoring our identities. As you put in the hours, you get to witness how much you’re capable of. By setting gym goals and achieving them, you build your self-esteem.
Human bodies are amazing; they allow us to recover from intense addictions. Working out is a way to thank your body for pulling you through. As you make it stronger, you’ll feel stronger in who you are.
6. It Encourages Better Sleep
Sleeping patterns get broken and become inconsistent when you’re using drugs. Your substance of choice may keep you awake for days. Or, it might make you sleep all the time.
If you’re struggling through the detox process, you may notice that irregular sleep is making it harder.
The best way to start getting consistent sleep in recovery is to tire yourself out during the day. Use up your energy on healthy activities, like working out.
Start your day with a walk around the neighborhood. After work, or later in the day, try out a new class at the gym. Opt to walk instead of drive when possible.
By nighttime, the goal is to feel tired enough to sleep. Exercising every day will help with that goal.
7. It Decreases Depression & Anxiety Symptoms
It’s normal to develop anxiety and/or depression with addiction. And, it doesn’t go away when you enter recovery.
In fact, your depression and anxiety could tempt you to start using again.
Some of the common symptoms of depression are fatigue, hopelessness, and lack of motivation. The symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, sweating, dread, and panic.
Exercise is effective at reducing all those symptoms and more. Releasing endorphins, decreasing stress, and building confidence all affect your road to sobriety.
By treating your anxiety and depression, you can also treat your addiction.
Interested in Learning More About Recovery Fitness?
Maintaining your sobriety is not going to be easy. It will take willpower, courage, and determination. When there are healthy activities that make it easier, you should try them.
One of those activities is working out. Recovery fitness is an amazing way to help you stay sober.
Your diet also affects your sober journey and overall health. Read more about how in the Diet and Fitness section of the blog.