What Are The Benefits of Physical Fitness in Recovery from Addiction?

What Are The Benefits of Physical Fitness in Recovery from Addiction?
June 11 14:28 2018 Print This Article

When someone has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, their need to use becomes the central focus of their lives. This is not through choice but as a result of the addictive compulsion to use that characterizes the illness. Not only will they become withdrawn and isolated from others as they try to conceal their struggle but they will probably have neglected themselves to the detriment of their physical and mental health.

Addiction is an illness that doesn’t discriminate and when someone is addicted to substances, they will have lost self-control to the extent that they are not capable of abstaining through willpower alone. One of the most significant benefits of structured rehab is that it gives addicts their power back through therapy and treatment so that they are capable of making better life choices in recovery. Many specialist facilities use exercise for opiate withdrawal in combination with medical treatment in detox as it has been shown to reduce symptoms considerably.

Physical fitness and exercise is an important part of successful treatment and there are several benefits. Here we take a closer look at them:

Physical Fitness Programs Relieve and Reduce Stress

Research has shown that exercise alleviates both physical and psychological stresses, which can be an effective way of reinforcing relapse prevention. Most people experience building tension as the day progresses at work or even when watching television but for someone with addiction illness, this can often lead to them using to self-medicate against it.

Tension can come from sitting in a poor posture, having a dispute with a co-worker or friend or even getting riled because of something relatively minor. Some of the physical signs of tension and stress include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach including diarrhea or constipation
  • Tense muscles and general aches and pains
  • Chest pain and increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and viral infections

By taking physical exercise, whether it be going for a run or just stretching out the limbs with yoga therapy, it is possible to relieve the symptoms of stress and tension and also provides a good defense against stressful situations.

Exercise Positively Alters Brain Chemistry

Physical fitness programs are known to create a natural high through the release of endorphins, which are the same neurotransmitters produced by drugs and alcohol. When someone has been abusing substances, they are likely to suffer depression because of the negative brain chemistry drugs and alcohol create. Using exercise for opiate withdrawal in detox for people who have become addicted to prescription drugs has been shown to reduce the sometimes distressing symptoms

Exercise for opiate withdrawal and also rehabilitation is encouraged for patients in treatment centers as it reintroduces natural levels of endorphins in the body. This not only helps patients feel better physically but it also retrains the body to regulate its own brain chemistry in natural and healthy ways. Replacing negative behaviors with positive practices is essential on the road to recovery from addiction and being fit and healthy is a significant step in the right direction.

Exercise is “Meditation in Motion”

Taking regular exercise works in a similar way to the mindfulness practice of yoga therapy in that it focuses the mind on the body and allows patients to concentrate on improving their physical and mental health. Through considered movements, whether that be in a gym or an activity such as Tai Chi, it is possible for patients to refocus their thoughts on their own wellbeing and leave all other thoughts behind.

Becoming physically fitter also restores clarity and improves motivation so that patients feel better about themselves and more optimistic about their future. For many addicts whose lives have become chaotic because of their illness, this clarity can make recovery much more achievable and manageable in the long-term. Although yoga therapy is the most commonly associated way of achieving a meditative state, general exercise often yields very similar results.

Exercise Promotes a Positive Outlook

People who take regular exercise report increased self-confidence, optimism and overall wellbeing and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Many people with addiction illness also suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition, known as dual diagnosis. By incorporating a physical fitness program the treatment plan for patients in rehab, it is possible for them to find more natural ways of sustaining good physical and mental health.

Someone with substance abuse disorder or alcoholism is encouraged by the positive changes in their body brought about by exercise. This can be a huge boost to their feelings of self-worth which in many cases has been destroyed by addiction illness. Becoming toned through exercise allows people to witness their bodies transforming and importantly, these changes are brought about by their own efforts. This can be enormously positive for people in addiction treatment and stands them in good stead to cope well for many years in sustainable recovery.

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Clare Louise
Clare Louise

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