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Bike rider riding for addiction recovery

How Exercise Facilitates Addiction Recovery

One of the least-discussed aspects of addiction is the effect it has on the body. When suffering from addiction, we may ignore our physical well-being in favor of seeking our high, from whatever substance that might be. The act of physical fitness can have a truly restorative transformation on our bodies and mental health.

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Getting Started

Depression can often lead to addiction, and exercise alleviates depression. For example, weight-intensive work can be a starting point not only to becoming healthy, but to shaking off the blues that come with withdrawal. But, if you have no equipment and don’t want to start with anything too strenuous, even a small amount of daily aerobic activity such as biking or walking can provide relief from feeling down. There are also exercises that utilize nothing more than your bodyweight to build muscle. If you’re a senior, there are still plenty of exercises that you can do, including stretching, swimming, and balance training. 

How Exercise Affects You

When we think of mental health, we may think of counseling, or self-care in the form of spa days, or even meditation. However, physical activity is one of the best ways you can keep your brain healthy, all while building self-confidence and lowering your stress levels. Combined, these can improve our self-image and self-worth, all of which we need to build up during this period. Exercise can combat mental fatigue, so if you notice that recovery has been draining your brain, doing some aerobics can help you to refocus. Exercise also releases helpful chemicals such as serotonin to help you feel good and combat anxiety. Stress, as we know, can lead to relapse, so reducing stress is invaluable.

Improving Your Mental Health

IThere are many little things you can do to work on improving your emotional state. Go outdoors when you can, as exposure to fresh air and nature, even in a small park, can uplift you and stimulate your mind in positive ways. It may even boost your self-esteem. Meditation can also help to combat stress and anxiety. It can help retrain your brain to think positively, rather than falling into old negative patterns. Allow yourself some time each day just to breathe and relax. Spending a few minutes focused on mindfulness can be very beneficial to your overall well-being.

How to Build a Healthy Routine

Start slowly. If you try to make too many changes at once, you may feel overwhelmed and give up. If you have a setback, do not beat yourself up over it. These things happen. Start again and allow yourself a bit of leeway during this process. It helps to have an outline of your daily routine ready, so when temptation arises or you’re unsure what to do, you can see what is next on your list to be accomplished. A schedule can help keep you on track. Try to give yourself ample time for each task you have planned, so if it takes longer than you expected, your day isn't thrown into chaos. Don't hesitate to make changes if you need to. Sometimes, working out in the afternoon ends up being easier than in the morning, or vice versa.

You need to start putting yourself and your body, first. You deserve to feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally. That process begins when you make the decision to exercise in whatever capacity works best for your lifestyle. That could mean walking 30 minutes every other day or taking high-intensity aerobic classes. Whatever you choose, make each moment count, and commit to making yourself as healthy.

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