Exercise can be beneficial to the healing and recovery of those suffering from substance use disorders. It can be even more effective for those in early recovery or those experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Exercise Can Battle Withdrawal Symptoms
Many patients in recovery go through stages of loss of energy, fatigue, and sleeplessness while their body and brain are healing. Exercise can be used as a tool to offset some of these symptoms.
An exercise regimen while undergoing a detox treatment doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does it have to be strict. Exercise means different things to different people. You could focus on low impact weight lifting or a high intensity intensity interval training. But remember, intensity level does not equate to effectiveness. What works for others may or may not work for you.
Exercise Provides Structure In Your Day
Having structure or a schedule is very important during early recovery. A regular and consistent exercise plan can provide a sense of structure and control. You know what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.
Exercise can also give you a platform for not engaging in other unhealthy activities. For example, if you know you have a workout at 7 am, you may tell yourself: “I can’t go out tonight because I have a workout in the morning.” Exercise can even help to restore a normal sleep schedule.
Exercise During Recovery Feels Good
As your brain and body heal from substance use disorder, your overall state of mind starts to shift.
You will start looking forward to the physical exertion and the ‘feel-good’ sensations after engaging in exercise. Start with an exercise that you know is enjoyable to you, especially if you are in early stages of recovery, since your body and mind are beginning to heal.
Remember to set yourself up for success. Once you have had a few successful workouts under your belt, branch out and try something different.
Exercise is Good for Your Brain
Research shows that exercise can increase the nerve connections in your brain, which helps heal the damage that occurred while actively using substances and alcohol. Exercise has also been found to help decrease symptoms of depression and even decrease urges to use and distract from cravings.
Overall, exercise has so many benefits that I hope this has sparked your motivation!
Amanda Pitts, LADC-1