Many people seem to believe that there is a positive correlation between physical well-being and mental wellbeing. They believe that the condition of the body is an outward reflection of the condition of the mind. Thus people who are suffering mentally will show some of that distress outwardly. Regular exercise and care for the body can significantly strengthen an individual’s mental state and consequently their sobriety.
The Importance of Physical Exercise
Health Reasons – Usually individuals struggling with addiction don’t take very good care of their health. Some common physical illnesses that correlate with addiction are obesity, malnutrition, high blood pressure, liver issues, dry or red skin, and gastrointestinal problems. In recovery, sometimes the patient slowly get his or her health back. However, some effects of drinking and drug use require extra effort. This is the reason why physical exercise is so important to an individual in early sobriety. Picking up an exercise regimen such as walking, biking, jogging, lifting weights, or swimming can strengthen the body and ease illnesses such as high blood pressure and excess weight.
Calms the Mind – In early sobriety an individual will find their thoughts racing or experience anxiety and insomnia. Exercise is a great way to combat these. As little as 30 minutes of light exercise a day can lead to physical exhaustion. This exhaustion is a good thing! People who exercise throughout the day report less racing thoughts, quicker onset of sleep, and deeper sleep.
Confidence and Self-Esteem – Like it or not, physical appearance is of some importance to most individuals. Looking good means feeling good. Picking an exercise activity and sticking with it can do great things for the individual’s confidence and motivation. Setting exercise goals and completing them can raise self-esteem and be a positive factor in self-image.
Natural High – In sobriety it is important to avoid any artificial neurotransmitter releasers, such as alcohol and drugs. However, many people in sobriety enjoy releasing natural neurotransmitters through exercise. An example of this is what is commonly called a “runner’s high”, which is simply a natural release of endorphins through running. Lifting weights release similar chemicals. These chemicals can help lower stress and help motivate the individual to continue exercising.
How to Get Started with Exercise?
The first few days of exercising are often the most difficult. If the individual is not used to physically demanding activities, they will often be very sore the next day. It is recommended to set small and very achievable goals such as working out three times a week. After a few weeks of exercise, the benefits become clear to the individual and their internal motivation to continue exercising will rise.
Individuals don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. There are many easy ways to get started. Running and biking are two of the most widely available ways to work out. Many individuals in recovery also promote yoga as a great way to exercise with an emphasis on calming and healing the mind. The most important thing is for the individual to find some form of exercise they love.
Hired Power brings recovery home. From intervention to recovery planning, safe passage transport to sober monitoring, our family is here to support yours so you can focus on healing, one step at a time. For more information, call us today at 800.910.9299.