Fitness and Recovery


Many recovering addicts struggle with aspects of their lives due to prolonged substance abuse.  Maintaining healthy with regular exorcise accompanied by a heathy diet can benefit in an assortment of ways.  There have been many clinical trials and test that link personal fitness to recovery from addiction.  Treatment centers are becoming more and more aware of this and implementing accordingly.  There is a multitude of methods designed for maintaining fitness in recovery, some being less traditional than others, guaranteeing that one will fit your own personal needs.  This will be explained further in the following article.

Benefits of Fitness in Recovery

In order to stay sober, one must change his or her entire life.  Simple abstinence from a substance is usually not an adequate recovery plan for someone who has serious drug or alcohol dependency issues.  One means of positive change can be working towards overall health through regular exorcise and dietary wellness.  Exercise inevitably makes a huge impact on the body.  Regular physical exertion helps blood circulation, improves heart rate, maintains weight, and benefits overall health by sweating out toxins introduced to the body, possibly introduced through poor dietary choices or drugs and alcohol.  A less known benefit of exercise is that it can also greatly affect your mental state in a positive manner.  It is a healthy means of relieving stress that the addicted person may have been previously drinking or using to compensate for.

Treatment Centers are Catching On

More and more treatment facilities are incorporating fitness based health and wellness programs to better aid their guests on a path towards sustainable recovery.  A few examples that might be implemented are; regular yoga classes that benefit the mind, body and spirit, spin classes or other cardio workouts, they may utilize personal trainers to give the client a solid foundation in which to work from, nutritional advise and education, because diet plays a major role in mental health as well as physical.

Alternative Methods to Fitness

Maintaining health and incorporating fitness into your daily routine does not necessarily mean hitting the gym for hours a day.  There are many means of being active and staying healthy.  The key is finding one that can meet the personal needs of the individual.  Many recovering addicts get involved in activities such as rock or mountain climbing, surfing, hiking, biking, swimming, or other unconventional physically exerting activities.  There are many websites where you can meet up with like-minded people online to engage in healthy group activities.  There are many networking sites with that get together in local communities every day, all with the common goal in mind of improving themselves and their communities.  On these site there are activities suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

Clinical Studies

Most people would assume that regular exercise would merely work to distract addicts from the obsession to drink or use, but clinical studies have shown that regular exorcise increases critical brain chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline, the same chemicals affecting the pleasure centers tickled by drugs and alcohol.  Studies have shown exercise, in addicts, show increased mood, improvements in weight control, healthy sleep patterns, and betterment of overall quality of life.  Certain animal studies that have shown exercise can boost the nervous system’s ability to heal itself, also known as neuroplasticity. Meaning exercise can re-groove memory pathways, which can often be battered by extensive substance use.   One particular study performed on lab rats in 2010 showed the benefits exercise had on addiction.  In this study, rats were administered controlled amounts of cocaine.  It was noted that those who exercised on a wheel had less craving for the cocaine and suffered less damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex than those who did not exercise. The Scandinavian Journal of Public Health reported that clients struggling with addiction who incorporated exercise into their rehabilitation programs showed an improved quality of life and significantly reduced the amount of the substance they had been abusing. Participants claimed that they had an easier time breathing, significantly increased energy, and felt better about their physical appearance.


The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle in Addiction Recovery

A healthy lifestyle is important for anyone, but particularly those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Research shows that a healthy diet can ease some of the symptoms that coincide with early recovery as well as balance nutritional deficiencies that are common among addicts and alcoholics.   In addition regular exercise increases quality of sleep, raises energy levels, helps with body image issues, and provides an all-encompassing sense of well-being.

Diet and exercise are also crucial tools to be used for relapse prevention.  Strenuous exercise activates the neuroendocrine response, responsible for what is commonly known as the “runner’s high”.  Activating this response can help ease depression, anxiety and other issues surrounding long term addiction. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only serves as a positive distraction, but also minimizes drug cravings and is a beneficial way to structure the day without using drugs or alcohol.

Recovering the mind, body and spirit from a life of substance abuse and addiction requires a plan of total healing, both mentally and physically. By integrating exercise into the treatment proses the formerly addicted person can speed up their recovery time and incorporate healthy routines into their regime that have the potential to last a life time.  Exercise will induce a strong body that will withstand much better when fronting the physical withdrawal symptoms of detox. A strong mind calmed and focused by stress relieving exercises accompanied with better body image, will hold up much better when facing the emotional strains during rehab. Individuals will benefit both physically and psychologically from regular exercise during the time spent in a substance abuse treatment program as well as empowering the former addict to be self-sufficient and in control of their health after they leave the program.  This for addicts is a huge endeavor, for in their active addictions, they had little control of anything in their lives.