You’ve finally done it! You have beaten your addiction, and now you are on your way to a healthier, drug-free life.
Cravings are going to be a part of sobriety, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying to deal with. Fitness after addiction recovery can be a great way to curb those cravings.
Now that you have finished the hard part, it’s time to start thinking about natural ways to prevent yourself from relapsing. Below are some tips to help you use fitness after addition recovery to stay drug- and alcohol-free.
Why Focus on Fitness After Addiction Recovery?
Everyone knows that exercising has many proven health benefits. It also can help prevent drug and alcohol relapse.
According to a study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity Journal, exercise helps people experience less anxiety, manage stress, decrease depression, and decrease urges and cravings for addictive substances. Exercise also can help to increase one’s confidence to stay clean and sober, and provide structure for better health.
Unfortunately, relapse is a common part of recovering from an addiction. Just like mental illness, addiction has a chronic relapsing course. Drug dependence has a relapse rate of around 40 to 60 percent.
However, fitness is one way to help your body stay active and your mind off of your addiction. According to a study published in the Buffalo News, people who exercise tend to do better during and after treatment.
This is because feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin are released naturally during exercise. People often use drugs or alcohol to try to access these feel-good chemicals and experience the effects. Exercise not only allows your body to access these hormones naturally, but it is also a tremendous stress-reduction technique that can help prevent a person from slipping back into a vicious cycle of addiction.
Effective Exercises for Relapse Prevention
There are a lot of different exercises a person can engage in to prevent relapse.
Getting involved in team sports like tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, and volleyball are great options to help you exercise and connect with others. Creating meaningful friendships with people who are drug- and alcohol-free can help you focus on your new substance-free life without being reminded of your past mistakes.
Having a sober community can also help combat feelings of loneliness experienced after cutting ties with old friendships that fueled your addiction.
When most people think of the word running, they mentally check out. Running is considered to be physically painful and mentally dull.
But what if you knew that through running, you could experience a “high” without an addictive substance? Sounds a little more appealing now, right?
An article in Runner’s World mentioned that researchers have studied how the brain responds to running and determined that running gives people the ability to feel “high.”
Deep within your body lies endorphins, which are chemicals that act a lot like morphine. When your body works hard, painkilling endorphins are released to combat that physical discomfort. This is known as the “runner’s high.”
The “runner’s high” is that feeling of elation, mixed with reduced stress, and sprinkled with the decreased ability to feel the pain. This is caused by the surge of endorphins.
Endorphins are produced as the body’s natural response to stress. Going for a long run puts a lot of pressure on a person’s body. This causes the body to produce endorphins to combat that stress. Runners often feel happy, motivated, and serene when they feel the “runner’s high”.
The best way to experience that “runner’s high” is to vamp up the speed of your next run or go for a longer distance. The goal is to increase the stress your body is experiencing, but not so far that your body is working merely to keep you alive.
For those of you who can’t stand the thought of running, walking is a great option to help prevent relapse.
According to the study mentioned above in the Mental Health and Physical Activity Journal, walking was found to decrease tension and anxiety, reduce depression symptoms, and improve a person’s mood. More importantly, walking was found to be associated with decreased urges to drink or smoke cigarettes.
Check out this other article we wrote about the benefits of walking!
Yoga is another excellent fitness technique that can be used to help prevent relapse after addiction recovery and fight muscle deterioration. Yoga is a form of practice that focuses on the connection between the mind and body. It originated in India and has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mental and physical health.
Yoga has many proven health benefits. It can relieve stress, support good health habits, and relieve lower back and neck pain. It can also improve mental and emotional health, sleep, and balance.
For those who suffer from anxiety or depression, it can help them manage their symptoms, too! After finishing addiction treatment, you may be feeling anxious about what’s next. Yoga can help you calm those intrusive thoughts and focus on the present.
Yoga is a great way to relax and reconnect your body and mind. Addiction rewires a person’s brain. Practicing yoga might help to realign some of the parts of the brain that have been impacted by addiction.
When you practice yoga, you become more in tune with yourself through learning to regulate breathing and letting go of stress, anxiety, and judgmental thoughts towards yourself. The practice of yoga helps a person let go of everything going on in their environment and turn inward, focusing on oneself and their new substance-free life.
Other Fitness Options
Exercise fills up your time and keeps your mind distracted. It helps to prevent boredom and stressful thoughts that could result in relapse. If you don’t enjoy playing team sports, running, walking, or yoga, then going to the gym and lifting weights might be down your alley.
Seeing improvements at the gym, hitting those challenging yoga positions, and even increasing the intensity of your runs or walks can make you feel healthier and more competent in other areas of your life. This includes your ability to stay drug- and alcohol-free!
Conclusion (Bottom Line)
Fitness after addiction recovery is a crucial step to help you stay free of addiction. Exercise has been proven to be an effective and natural method to help prevent relapse. Engaging in fitness routines such as joining a team sport, running, walking, and yoga are all great options to help you continue experiencing a healthier life.
Unfortunately, relapse is a part of addiction. It shouldn’t be seen as a failure, but rather a normal part of the vicious addiction cycle. If you or someone you love is experiencing a relapse, finding a drug rehab center can help.
Overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction is a lifelong journey, and getting into a drug rehab center can significantly improve your chances of overcoming your addiction and getting your life back.
This is a guest post by Patrick Bailey, a professional writer, mainly in mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the habit and the mental health world and enjoys writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.
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To your success,