During an addict’s recovery period in rehab, paying attention to exercise and health is one of the essential keys in recovery. Proper health and exercise can provide a wealth of physical, mental, and emotional benefits to addicts in recovery. Below we will outline a few of the ways you can work on your health, as well as the benefits of doing so in your recovery.
Benefits of Proper Exercise and Health Maintenance
Numerous studies conducted through the years suggest that vigorous exercise is a dopamine producer and regulator. Dopamine is an important chemical in the brain responsible for inducing happiness. Drug addicts who use frequently experience high levels of dopamine in their nervous system. Exercise can give a “healthy high” by releasing dopamine after periods of vigorous physical activity.
Exercise can also serve as a buffer for a recovering addict. Many addicts who relapse do so immediately after rehab. Typically because they enter the real world and cannot adjust to a life without drugs. Exercise helps recovering addicts by giving them something to do and can help people fill the void in their life that drugs created.
Many substances, when abused, will wreak havoc on our bodies and tear them into extremely unhealthy proportions. Exercise is one of the keystone habits, along with proper nutrition, that helps recovering substance abusers repair the damage that drugs did on their body. Proper exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, among other conditions.
Some people’s addictions take a toll on their body weight. Proper exercise and dieting will ensure that you stay at a healthy weight for your size. Some addicts may participate in programs with light exercise and heavier eating to supplement a malnutrition deficit during their addiction period.
Health and Exercise Tips
Take Things Slowly
Many ex-addicts, especially those using inhaled substances such as cigarettes or marijuana, may find it especially hard to resume exercise after their rehabilitation. The heart of a heavy smoker simply cannot handle heart-heavy exercise.
That’s why it’s important for heavy addicts to start with light exercise. You can then ramp it up slowly to avoid any major issues. Remember, building a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong process, and major improvements will happen over time – not in a day.
Choose the Right Exercises
The best exercises for a recovering addict to perform are ones that target weakened areas of his/her body. A smoker may want to consider cardio to focus on his/her lungs, while an underweight opiate user may consider strength training, as they don’t want to lose more weight.
Proper exercise can reduce the chance for organ failure, but you must allow your organs a chance to respond to an increase in physical activity.
Nutrition is an Important Part Too
Eating right is an exercise all on its own. You must constantly flex your willpower muscles to make the correct dietary decisions three times (or more) a day. You should also work with a medical professional to determine if your history of drug abuse and rehabilitation indicates a need for (or lack thereof) of specific nutritional guidelines.
Build Health with Discipline
Constant exposure is the key to building lasting success. Going to the gym randomly once every month for 10 hours is much less effective than going to the gym for one hour every day for 10 days. When you have discipline under an exercise therapy and nutrition regimen, it’s much harder to sink back into old, destructive habits.