There’s no denying the fact that there are a wide variety of benefits when it comes to living an active life and engaging in physical activity. For decades now, people have started to realize just how important it is to live a healthy, active life, with research and articles backing the importance of being active. Exercise has it’s benefits, but how does it affect a recovering addict? During the addiction recovery process, a person’s body is going through many uncomfortable, but beneficial changes. Thankfully, physical activity can help make those uncomfortable changes a bit more bearable. In today’s article, we’re going to discuss the benefits of physical activity during addiction recovery. 

Reduces Stress/Anxiety/Depression

As we mentioned previously, someone going through addiction recovery has to experience many uncomfortable and hellish changes. Though changing to a substance-free life is beneficial, it’s hard for a former addict to see this when they are experiencing harsh withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal, if you don’t already know, is an onslaught of uncomfortable symptoms that former addicts experience when they initially withdraw from using a substance. Some common withdrawal symptoms are migraines, irritability, dehydration, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and in this case stress/anxiety.

Most addicts will use substances as a means of coping with feelings like stress and anxiety. When they withdrawal from using substances, they lost that chemical safe haven. Feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression will start to escalate if left untreated, that’s why we suggest implementing more physical activity into a recovery routine. Regular exercise has been shown to alleviate stress by increasing the heart rate and releasing dopamine in the brain. Not only does this help fight against stress, anxiety, or depression for people in recovery, it also helps them live a healthier life.

Increases Energy

You see it on TV and in movies all the time, someone had a long hard day at work so the first thing they do it drive home for a glass of wine or a beer. This sort of behavior not only promotes addiction, but it also promotes laziness. If a glass of wine or whiskey is the one thing you’re looking forward to after a long day at work, you’ll never set aside time to be more productive. But, if you are able to cut out these bad habits, you’ll have more time to be productive and active. 

Adding in time to exercise at the end of the day can give you a boost of energy. Through regular exercise, oxygen levels can increase which is how your overall energy levels improve. Cardiovascular exercises are the perfect way to improve overall energy. Through this, a person can overall use their time more effectively and prevent any kind of laziness from seeping into their daily schedule.

Improves Sleep

Another thing that recovering addicts often deal with is insomnia or at least a lack of sleep. Insomnia typically comes with withdrawal from harder substances like heroin or cocaine, but lack of sleep can come from withdrawal from most substances. Withdrawal symptoms like insomnia make it hard for a person to get a healthy amount of sleep. This can cause problems in a person’s everyday routine and could even cause them to seek out their preferred substance in hopes of sleeping as they used to when they abused the substance. Clearly, this is not the ideal route to take.

With exercise, the overall quality and quantity of sleep are improved. When we workout, our body temperature is at its highest state in the day. When we sleep, our body temperature is at the lowest. When our bodies start to recover after a workout, it cools down at a much faster rate, which allows us to fall asleep much quicker and easier. This could eliminate insomnia and the lack of sleep recovering addicts face in withdrawal. 

Improves Your Overall Mood

If you didn’t already know it, early recovery can be extremely uncomfortable, and even hellish to deal with. Since withdrawal can bring about some uncomfortable symptoms for a person, their entire mood may change drastically when going through the first initial stages of recovery. Anxiety could cause a person to be more stressed, stress may cause a person to be more depressed, and depression may cause a person to be less social. Withdrawal can completely alter a person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions, just like addiction did. However, these drastic mood changes/swings do not last forever, it’s just a matter of change.

As we mentioned previously, working out and exercising regularly can boost the amount of dopamine released in the brain. What is dopamine? Well, it’s the hormone most closely related to happiness. The more of this hormone released in your brain, the happier and more lively you are. Since substances were their mains source of happiness, a former addict will need to find a new way to get that release of dopamine. Exercising is a much healthier and natural way of getting this hormone release. Boosted dopamine in the brain would relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and even irritability. 

We’ve mentioned a few of the most significant benefits of physical activity during recovery, but there are so many more. Implementing exercise into your daily routine can reap a lot of benefits not only to your health but to your recovery as well. One of the worst things for a recovering addict to do is growing stagnant. The second they are sitting and doing nothing with their free time is when the thoughts of using substances again seep into their minds. The most beneficial thing for an addict to do is to find ways of filling up their free time, and exercise is the perfect way to do that. It not only improves their health, but it can help them live a successful and productive sober life. 

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.