For people who are involved in alcohol or drug abuse, neglecting important factors related to daily health can have a significantly negative impact on their physical and emotional well being. It is vital to repair both physical and psychological damage which is caused by chemical dependency, as well as the impaired body and mind connection. Within chemical dependency treatment, exercise can fulfill a number of purposes, however there are several key benefits which can be achieved by exercise during the treatment and recovery from substance abuse.
- Stress can be relieved and reduced through exercise. It has been shown that exercise can alleviate psychological stress, as well as physical stress. When we are at work or taking part in everyday life, tension can build in our body, this can even happen when we are just watching TV. The stress may come about from things like poor posture to issues like having a poor working relationship with another colleague. Body movement alleviates such tension and rids your body of retained negative feelings. Emotional and physical energy is used during focused exercise, this energy can otherwise find another harmful way to escape.
- Your brain chemistry is naturally and positively altered by exercise. Endorphins, which create a natural high, are release when you exercise. It is the same endorphins which were released when you were involved in substance abuse. However, an imbalance occurs when drugs and alcohol are abused and this interferes with how well a person can experience satisfaction, happiness and pleasure. You will be able to reintroduce natural endorphins into your system though specific physical activity during your treatment. Not only does this improve how you feel, it also re-educates your body into seeing that it can regulate brain chemistry and mood in ways which are natural and healthful. Exercise is used in a lot of young adult drug rehab, simply because younger people are a lot more receptive to pushing their bodies to get the kicks drugs once provided.
- ‘Meditation in Motion’. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is ‘meditation in motion’, this means when we concentrate on the physical we are able to gain the emotional and psychological benefits that come with meditation. We are able to focus our minds on our own well being and, for a time, forget about everything else that life is throwing our way. When you finish your work out you can feel like you have a clearer mind and generally have a sense of optimism and rejuvenation. It is identifying this sense of clarity within the chaos which can make your road to recovery seem more plausible.
- Exercise can give you a better outlook. For people who exercise on a regular basis, their sense of self confidence and optimism can feel improved while feeling of anxiety and depression can decrease. This is partly related to how the body regulates itself when we exercise, but also relates to our sense of pride and self worth as we reach our goals. Passing specific benchmarks makes you feel like an ‘accomplisher’ and assures you that you can also attain your goal of sobriety.
Also, you can benefit from better sleep, more energy and a superior feeling of well being when you exercise regularly, these all contribute to making life feel more manageable and the road to recovery a sustainable one.