It has long been proven that exercise is beneficial to both the mind and the body. It doesn’t only improve ones’ health, but also prevents the onset of certain life-threatening diseases like cancer, heart ailment, and osteoporosis to name a few. Exercise will not just help you get back on your feet and into shape but it can also lengthen your life. Truly, exercise has overwhelming effects to a person’s overall health; hence it can be an integral part of healing and recovery from addiction. It’s inexpensive and everyone has access to it. Although exercise by itself is not a cure for addiction, it can still help you big time to sober up and make you full of beans once again.
If you’re not 100% convinced that exercise can indeed support you in your fight for sobriety, think again! A number of research studies back up the claim that exercise has the potential to alleviate depression symptoms and reverse addiction. Consistent results also show that long-term fitness can heighten the level of new nerve connections in the brain that will facilitate healing.
Based on studies conducted by Psychology professor Mark Smith – a fellow in the American Psychological Association and faculty member at Davidson College in N.C. -, exercise can reduce cocaine-self administration. His clinical studies with rats showed that rats who regularly exercise responded much less to cocaine as compared to their inactive counterparts. With the success of his research, Smith was given a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to expand the research until 2014. The exploration is geared to proving that exercise can both be a means for addiction prevention and treatment.
There exist other published studies with the same and consistent results as Smith’s. An example is a Danish pilot study that was conducted to see the effect of exercise in altering the behavior and body image of drug addicts. The results showed that physical exercise can indeed administer important support in the treatment of drug abuse. The study also concluded that in order to ensure long-term change, the major challenge relies in maintaining the behavior change and influence of peer group.
The Scandinavian Journal of Public Health documented that drug abuse patients who underwent rehab programs that included physical training had gained a much improved quality of life. Participants were able to lessen their intake of the addictive drugs and they also claimed that they experienced improvement in their breathing and physical outlook. More and more researchers are riding along in the quest to explore the potential of exercise to combat addiction – preventive and treatment. If the experts are convinced, why shouldn’t we?
Failure to manage stress often causes addiction like alcohol and drug abuse. Exercise combats stress. There’s a chemical called Galanin that is produced in the brain during workout, which – according to studies – lessens stress-related cravings. Regular physical activity plus sufficient sleep and proper eating will lower your stress levels and increase your energy levels. Exercise alleviates muscle tension and facilitates favorable changes in the brain, which helps improve your mood and overall self-esteem. So, if you find yourself overwhelmed with a lot of stresses, go for a cardio, yoga, and outdoor exercises that will give a relaxing diversion. Or obtain a new physical hobby that interests you and will keep you challenged.
Get a Natural High
All recovering addicts are predisposed to relapse. One big culprit to relapse is the craving for that “high” feeling that abused substance provides. Withdrawal can be very depressing for a patient, add in the factors that pushed the patient to resort to alcohol or drug abuse, the fight can be a total fuss. But thanks to exercise you can get high without the negative effects. When you exercise, chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, and endocannabinoids are released in the brain. These chemicals give you a euphoria or natural high feeling that relieves stress. Indeed, exercise can give you a general positive feeling and allows you to combat the emotional strains during and after rehab. So, fly high with a natural high!
Exercise is a natural and healthy treatment alternative. It adds to a more holistic approach in obtaining a sober living. It will calm your mind and body that will help keep you on track during and after rehab.