The only people who can fully grasp the amount of dedication, commitment and will-power that’s required for long-term sobriety following a substance addiction are those who have been through it or witnessed it firsthand.
Recovering from an addiction requires a complete lifestyle alteration. This means that the individual adopts a new, healthy mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual state. For these reasons, fitness plays an important role in addiction recovery.
Fitness has a way of freeing the mind and body of stress and restoring confidence. In general, setting and accomplishing fitness goals gives people a sense of purpose and satisfaction – two key components that are essential for successfully recovering from an addiction.
Here are 5 specific reasons fitness helps with addiction recovery.
#1. Exercising Restores the Body and Mind
Regular exercise produces several benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic illnesses. While this is an important aspect of our overall well-being, many people forget the psychological advantages of long-term fitness. Exercise is known to help individuals with anxiety, stress and depression. Specifically, studies have shown that exercise can restore and heal the brain, which can suffer harmful effects from ongoing substance abuse. Furthermore, engaging in exercise releases chemicals in the brain that ultimately alters its chemistry. This process restores the brain to its natural state.
#2. Exercising is a Healthy Outlet
When recovering from an addiction, it’s imperative to replace old habits with positive, healthy activities and tasks. At the same time, emotions and stress can be at an all-time high, and the inability to cope with life stressors can result in an unfavorable outcome. Committing to getting fit means establishing both short-term and long-term goals throughout the journey; this is much like recovering from an addiction. Exercise is a healthy outlet that not only serves as a stress reliever but can also promote productivity and self-gratification.
#3. A Commitment to Fitness Occupies Time
Early in the addiction recovery process, someone who is recovering may feel overwhelmed by the amount of free time that was once occupied by their addiction. Therefore, seeking employment, attending school and finding new productive hobbies are often encouraged upon leaving an addiction treatment facility. Committing to fitness means finding the time to develop a routine and daily regimen. Exercise is a versatile activity that can be performed anywhere, at any time, making it a great addition to the recovery process.
#4. Fitness Teaches Accountability
In many rehabilitation programs for substance addiction, individuals are taught the significance of being held accountable for their choices and actions. Setting and achieving goals can only be executed when an individual is committed to carrying out their plans. Being a productive part of society requires fulfilling obligations and taking care of responsibilities. The same is true for people who are firm about their fitness goals. For someone recovering from an addiction, exercise is a sure way to practice accountability by establishing a schedule and sticking to it.
#5. You’re Surrounded by a Community of Health-Oriented Individuals
On the journey to long-term sobriety, one of the most important elements is a positive, encouraging support network. Returning to the same social circle after getting clean from an addiction can be detrimental to the addiction recovery process. The fitness community not only make good accountability partners, but they’re great at motivating and inspiring one another. The added benefit is that these are people who are serious and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
While there are many aspects that contribute to addiction recovery and long-term sobriety, exercise specifically addresses the physical, psychological and social components that need healing. Formulating and engaging in a routine fitness program provides structure, improved health, self-confidence, purpose, balance and strength. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by focusing on fitness during and following recovery from a substance addiction.
To learn more, please visit The Recovery Village.