The Benefits of Regular Exercise in Recovery

Exercise is any physical activity that improves or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is done for various reasons, including increasing growth and development, preventing aging, strengthening muscle tissues along with the cardiovascular system. That also hones athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, and also enhancing health also for enjoyment. Many people prefer to exercise outdoors where they can congregate in groups, socialize, and enhance well-being.

Indeed. Exercise is becoming increasingly an element of many treatment programs. It has also proved effective, when along with cognitive-behavioral therapy at helping people quit smoking. Exercise can exert beneficial results by addressing psychosocial and physiological needs that nicotine replacement alone does not. It can help reduce negative feelings and stress and by helping prevent weight gain following cessation. Research to determine whether and how exercise programs can play a similar role in the treatment of other forms of drug abuse is on the move.

ADDICTION TO DRUGS AND alcohol affects approximately 5.3 percent of the global population each year. The clinical term for the diagnosis is “substance use disorder”. It is a weakening condition that, while left untreated, can turn into a death sentence. ( The daily onslaught of overdose deaths in today’s opiate epidemic is a reminder of that terrible reality. )

But what many people do not know is usually that like many common chronic conditions – hypertension, diabetes, and depression, for instance – substance use disorders are also extremely treatable. In reality, they respond very well to a comprehensive approach. It includes medication, therapy, and other key components of a healthy recovery lifestyle, notably a nutritional diet and regular exercise.

Most inpatient rehabilitation facilities now regularly integrate exercise into their treatment programs. That is because the evidence for exercise’s benefits for recovery is overwhelmingly clear. Exercise helps to reduce cravings, enhance mood and raise self-confidence, thereby boosting the odds of getting lifelong freedom from addiction.

Exercise Diminishes Cravings and Substance Abuse

Cravings, or the mental and physical needs and compulsions to drink or use drugs, are a hallmark of addiction.  These include strongest during the first couple of months of abstinence, receding in intensity with time the longer one has been successfully sober.  However, research reveals that exercises are a great way to reduce these cravings and substance abuse linked to them.

  • Researchers at Vanderbilt observed that after 10 30-minute sessions on a treadmill over a two-week period. Heavy marijuana users were capable to reduce their cravings and cannabis use by more than 50 percent.
  • Similar results outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse happened in two earlier independent experiments ( at the University of Minnesota along with the University of Virginia ) with cocaine-seeking lab rats. While the rats were forced to run on an exercise wheel, they exposed less cocaine-seeking behavior.
  • Exercise reduced drug use among methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine users in a 2011 review in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

There are theories exactly why exercise minimizes cravings and substance abuse. First, exercises lower levels of a protein in the brain connected to drug cravings. Second, exercise produces “feel-good” endorphins. These are akin to the effects of drinking or using drugs. Whichever the explanation, such discoveries exhibit that exercise can reduce both cravings and the drug-use behaviors they usually proceed.

Exercise Enhances Mood

Exercise also improves mood,  that is welcome news for anyone struggling with clinical-depression or a case of “the blues”.   It is a very usual experience in early recovery which is also a known relapse trigger.

Many people in early recovery face varying degrees of depression owing to depleted stages of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. It also includes glutamate, GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. The lack of these receptors is a direct physiological consequence of addiction.

Additionally, dual diagnoses just like major depression along with mood disorders that occur with addiction impact many people in recovery. And in many cases, those disorders can be the root of a substance abuse habit.

However, a study reveals that strenuous exercise fastens the production of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. Thereby, It also lifts mood and minimizes symptoms of depression. In this way, physical exercise leads to an indispensable buffer from relapse when helping to replenish those really positive neurotransmitters.

Exercise Maximizes Self-Confidence

One of the first issues that addiction robs its victims of is a healthy feeling of self, that can hurt any efforts at recovery. Getting back self-confidence is, therefore, an important priority in recovery. Researches recommend that exercise can really help in that endeavor. For instance, in addition to lowering symptoms of depression, 20 to 40 minutes of daily exercises improved self-esteem in overweight children in a 2009 study at the Medical College of Georgia.

Most significantly, the confidence increase that exercising provides little or nothing to perform with how fast you run. How many miles you swim or whether you are capable to bench 200 pounds. Rather, a budding sense of self-confidence simply takes that you perform exercise regularly, according to 2009 findings by researchers at the University of Florida. In other words, the regular act of exercising not the quality of that performance is exactly what can boost your self-image.

For people in recovery from addiction, that is just one more compelling reason to render exercises a typical part of their lifestyle.