Getting “clean” is only the first step in the recovery process. Developing the strength to go for days, months, and years in sobriety means paying ongoing attention to all aspects of healing. One important facet of this long-term holistic healing process is restoring physical health.
Substance abuse can devastate health, and extended use can harm your body in serious ways, long after the “high” has subsided. A lifestyle revolving around the use of drugs or alcohol is not an active one. People under the stupefying influence of a drug often spend a lot of time too “out of it” to live an active life.
Trying to get your life back in order can sometimes be difficult, and you find yourself feeling exhausted or unable to do go through a normal day with energy and vitality. If this is the case, exercise can be an excellent way to become more healthy, gain energy, and also feel better about life.
Benefits of exercise
Substance abuse and addiction can leave you feeling exhausted and sick. Physical activity reverses these trends, allowing you to get in shape and your body to operate at a better level. Building up your strength and endurance can increase your capacity to go through your day and do more than you thought possible.
Beyond these direct benefits, taking the time to maintain and increase your physical fitness can be an important part of regaining a sense of pleasure about life. Drugs work on the brain by overloading it with neurotransmitters that bring on pleasant feelings, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Simply cutting drugs out of your life can leave you feeling empty and depressed, since the euphoric rush of a drug-induced high was the only way you experienced pleasure. Researchers writing for Sports Medicine found that exercise was one of the best ways to naturally release these same important chemicals. That makes it an excellent way to feel energized and refreshed, and experience an elevated mood in sobriety.
In the first stages of detox, you may need some time to simply rest and relax. Gradually, you can start to incorporate more physical activity into your life, but it’s important to start out slowly. Doing too much at once can be overwhelming.
Furthermore, after a long time of no physical activity, it is possible to over-exercise, and create strains or damage the body. So it’s important to be gentle on yourself, and try to listen to your body and learn its limits.
Starting out slowly will also make it easier to continue doing it over the long-term, creating a healthy habit. Going on walks can be an excellent way to begin. You can start out with short walks, and gradually increase the lengths.
Get blood pumping
Some of best forms of exercise to increase energy level, stamina, and strength are cardiovascular and aerobic exercises that work-out the heart and lungs. Some activities you can explore include running, cycling and swimming.
Yoga is also a useful, more low-energy form of exercise that can increase strength and improve your breathing. As you continue to increase your involvement in activities that support fitness, it may be useful to start meeting with a personal trainer, who can recommend the forms of exercise most useful for your body’s needs.
Substance abuse takes a heavy toll on health, and addiction is a pattern of consistently harming your body. Recovery provides an opportunity to change your relationship with yourself, so that you take time to care for yourself and treat yourself well. Exercise challenges the body in healthy ways, allowing you to take joy in what it is capable of doing. Now is the time to start caring for yourself.