Substance use disorders are highly treatable and recovery is possible. However, recovery is a journey that requires hard work, dedication, and self-care. Many people in the recovery community find that physical activity can be an essential part of maintaining sobriety and building a healthier lifestyle. As January approaches many people start to think about how to make healthy changes in the new year. Including regular exercise in your weekly routine has many health benefits, including supporting addiction recovery.
The Benefits of Exercise in Recovery
Physical activity has been linked to improved mental health outcomes, including increased self-esteem, reduced stress levels, and improved mood. Research has found that individuals who engage in physical activity on a regular basis report feeling more positive emotions than those who do not exercise regularly. Additionally, regular physical activity has been linked to an increased sense of well-being and improved quality of life overall—both important aspects of successful recovery from substance use disorder.
In addition to the mental health benefits, regular physical activity can also have a positive impact on your physical health. Exercise helps reduce inflammation throughout the body and can help improve heart health by increasing your cardiovascular endurance as well as lowering blood pressure. When combined with proper nutrition and restful sleep habits, physical activity can help you build muscle tone, lose weight if necessary, and maintain healthy bodily functions overall—all things that contribute to long-term success in recovering from substance use disorder.
Finding Your Motivation to Exercise in Recovery
For many people in recovery from substance use disorder, it can be difficult to get started with routine physical exercise. It can be even more challenging if you haven’t exercised regularly before or have never enjoyed it in the past. The best way to jumpstart your progress is to find something you enjoy doing and start with small goals that you know you can achieve easily. For example, if you don’t like running but love swimming or dancing. Skip the treadmill but find ways to incorporate the pool or dance floor into your routine. Building up gradually will help ensure that you stick with your new exercise program while avoiding burnout or injury. It is easy to overtrain early in your fitness journey, so take it slow at first.
Finding something you love, and that you can stick to, also helps in establishing your own recovery community. A regular pick-up basketball game, pickleball match or running club with other people in recovery can create supportive relationships. So often substance use disorder results in the loss of important relationships that lead to isolation. Rebuilding a community focused around a shared hobby or purpose, works to also rebuild self-esteem and confidence.
The Bottom Line
Physical activity is an important part of any successful substance use disorder recovery plan. It provides numerous mental health benefits such as improved moods and higher self-esteem. Furthermore, it also offers numerous physical health benefits such as increased cardiovascular endurance and reduced inflammation, contributing to better overall health during our journey towards long-term sobriety. The key is finding an enjoyable form of exercise that works for you and setting attainable goals. Gradual progression over time is key in avoiding burnout or injury preventing further progress down the road. With patience and dedication however, anyone can begin incorporating regular physical activities into their lives regardless of their previous experience level in this area.
If you are looking for help in working on your physical health while in recovery, consider working with a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Among many other services, they can help you discover and participate in physical and mental wellness activities and events. Reach out to our team today to learn more!