Make no mistake about it, I’m a fan of exercise as a form of treatment for those struggling with their addiction(s) or mental illness. It’s why I started Active For Recovery. I truly believe a missing component in many treatment programs is the introduction of personal fitness and health into an individuals life. However, exercise doesn’t have to be an ultra-strenuous session at the gym, it can be as simple as a bike ride, going for a walk, swimming, or finding something else you enjoy doing that keeps you moving. It’s not just me, but there’s plenty of research to suggest that exercise is a great addition to any treatment program. Here’s an excerpt from the study “Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise”
Clinical data examining the use of exercise as a treatment for the abuse of nicotine, alcohol, and other substances suggest that exercise may be a beneficial treatment for stimulant abuse, with direct effects on decreased use and craving. In addition, exercise has the potential to improve other health domains that may be adversely affected by stimulant use or its treatment, such as sleep disturbance, cognitive function, mood, weight gain, quality of life, and anhedonia, since it has been shown to improve many of these domains in a number of other clinical disorders.
Not only can exercise help decrease use and cravings, but it also has the added benefit of possibly reversing some of the adverse affects substance abuse may have caused on your body.
You’re Playing With My Endorphins
When someone is trying to recover from addiction, they’re not only going to be going through withdrawls, but their body’s endorphins are also going to be all out of whack. The previous “high” feeling you had is no longer there and, at first, it seems like the only way to be happy again is to get back on whatever you were doing. But, this is where exercise comes in. Exercise leads to the release of endorphins.
Studies show exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which cause us to have what is commonly known as a“natural high” or a“runners high.”You may not realize what caused it, but most of us have felt it. Most people will attest, it’s the best drug in the world with wonderful residual health benefits.
For me, exercise has been the key to me staying addiction free and completely relapsing. When I exercise, even for the smallest amount of time a day, I tend to eat healthier overall and my day goes by smoother. When I don’t exercise for a period of time, I recognize that my eating habits tend to become a little worse and it becomes more difficult to startup my routine again.