Realizing you have an addiction can be emotional and traumatic. You’ll feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, which can wreak havoc on your finances and relationships. You might wonder whether there’s hope for recovery. Luckily, there is.
When paired with practicing healthy coping and stress management techniques, research has shown that physical fitness can help people in addiction recovery stay on the right track. The human brain releases chemicals when we exercise, which could provide an alternative reward for those who are in recovery. In other words, exercise might help you fight cravings in order to stay clean and sober.
Engaging in aerobic exercises, such as running, on a regular basis can be very helpful. Although additional research is still needed, promising studies have also been conducted on cocaine and other drugs. This also offers hope for addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Opioids are responsible for more deaths in the United States than any other substance. In Kentucky, which has one of the highest overdose death rates in the nation, primary care doctors issue three times more opioid prescriptions than many other states, despite the fact that 1 in 4 Americans become addicted when opioids are prescribed for non-cancer pain.
As the nation struggles to control the growing epidemic, many people are finding hope in the form of physical activities, including yoga. There are even specific yoga sequences for those in recovery, designed to be used along with a twelve-step program.
Yoga and other physical activities can also help with addiction recovery by reducing feelings of anxiety. In the journey to sobriety, those in recovery often struggle with intense stress. Stress issues commonly occur alongside addiction and exercise has been shown to simultaneously help both.
Rather than trying to numb their anxiety by drinking or using, people in recovery can try meditation and yoga to help focus the mind on the present moment, releasing their stress in a healthy way. Additionally, some experts believe exercise is a vital component of any stress management program because it is a healthy outlet for releasing frustrations.
Of course, even those who are not struggling with addiction can run into problems during their physical health journey. You might hit a fitness plateau, get frustrated at the pace of your results, or find it difficult to maintain motivation to workout.
In order to overcome some of the common problems that many people run into when starting an exercise program, it can be helpful to take “before” photos and measurements. Stepping on a scale, measuring your body fat, and also measuring your body dimensions with a tape measurer are important steps, as results often appear in these areas first before we are even able to see them in the mirror. If weight loss is your goal, remember that muscle weighs more than fat, so you might not necessarily notice a shift on the scale even if you are getting fitter.
If motivation is an issue, personal trainers, workout buddies, and challenges can be a fun way to hold yourself accountable. Don’t be afraid to try different types of workouts until you find something that works for you.
If you feel like you have a long way to go before hitting your fitness goal, it can be helpful to think of it as several smaller challenges grouped together. For instance, if you know you want to lose 100lbs, this can feel overwhelming. Instead, focus on losing 10lbs first. After hitting that goal, move on to the next 10lbs, and then the next 10lbs, and so on. Keep going until you hit your final goal.
You’re working toward building a healthier, happier life for yourself and your loved ones. Your insight has helped you admit your addictions and maintain perseverance during recovery. Now, you’re empowering yourself through a fitness journey that will continue to heal and transform your life. Congratulations on your decision to take your brave, bold steps of addiction recovery.