Exercise Helps You Feel Better in Recovery

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on May 29, 2019.

There is no doubt about it, exercise is great for everyone. Sticking to a regular workout routine can help build your muscles and confidence all at the same time. In addiction recovery, exercise is an important ingredient that can contribute to your journey.

Benefits of Exercise During Recovery

Exercise offers several benefits for people recovering from addiction, such as:

  • Structure: Having a set time period to work out or take classes at your local gym can help build structure and stability to your day.
  • Commitment: Routine-oriented exercise reinforces commitment, whether it's committing to a regular workout or making a goal and striving to succeed it.
  • Relapse prevention: A recent study found that regular moderate- to high-intensity workouts can be an effective method for preventing relapse.
  • Increased energy: As you exercise, you are strengthening your heart and circulation, which in turn gives you a boost of energy.
  • Stronger immune system: Working out regularly protects your body from conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, strokes and even cancer.
  • Reduced stress: If not managed properly, stress can lead to relapse. Regular exercise helps to reduce stress as it improves circulation and releases endorphins in the brain.
  • Better sleep: Physical activity improves both your quality and quantity of sleep. Since many people recovering from addiction experience trouble sleeping, this is very beneficial.
  • Improved mood: Some symptoms during withdrawals are increased mood swings, but exercise can help taper your emotions. You can help yourself adjust to your new lifestyle by teaching your brain to naturally produce happiness by working out.

Why Does Exercise Make You Feel Better?

Exercise clearly has countless benefits for addiction recovery, and they all have to do with our body's natural reaction to physical activity. Working out makes us feel better because it:

  • Serves as a natural antidepressant: According to research, exercise can cause an increase in tryptophan, which leads to the synthesis of the serotonin neurotransmitter. In layman's terms, exercising is a natural antidepressant that boosts your mood and energy level.
  • Increases blood flow to the brain: As you push yourself during your exercise routine, your brains produce neurochemicals called endorphins, which are considered nature's painkillers. Endorphins create feelings of euphoria and well-being as a way of rewarding and thanking your brain.
  • Provides a feeling of accomplishment: From completing a tough workout to feeling and seeing your body change, exercise helps you accomplish a lot, which can boost your confidence. Find success in your workouts. Set goals that are reachable but also challenging and be proud of your achievements. You'll not only see your accomplishments on the outside, but you'll feel it on the inside, too.

Popular Exercises During Addiction Recovery

If you're just starting to exercise to help your addiction recovery process, you may be unsure of where to start. Some popular exercises to try out include:

  • Cardio: Cardio exercise helps strengthen the heart and lungs. On the mental side, cardio manages stress, improves mood and can help eliminate depression. If you are still in rehabilitation or just recently left, start off slow and gradually work up to intense cardio — some people with a history of substance abuse could suffer from a heart arrhythmia or related conditions.
  • Yoga: Yoga, tai chi and similar forms of mindfulness-related exercise are excellent ways to manage stress through meditation and reduce negative thoughts.
  • Team sports: Team sports are a healthy way to socialize away from drugs and alcohol while also getting a workout. You can make new friends, increase your confidence and learn the importance of working together.
  • Strength training: Exercising to improve muscle tone was found to reduce depression and improve mood. As an added bonus, strength training can also boost your confidence.
  • Outdoor exercise: Any sort of outdoor exercise, such as hiking, running or biking, can improve your mood thanks to the sunlight and natural vitamin D your body absorbs.

Find the Routine That Works for You

Since everyone's recovery journey and exercise preferences are different, you may have to try a few routines before you find the one that helps you. For more information on exercise during recovery and our rehabilitation services, contact Diamond House Detox today. Call today for same day admittance at (800) 205-6107.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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