http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/can-exercise-keep-you-sober/ -----> Written by Me Earlier Today!
Many people seem to believe that there is a positive correlation between physical well-being and mental-wellbeing. They believe that the condition of the body is an outward reflection of the condition of the mind. Thus people who are suffering mentally will show some of that distress outwardly. I have already written about the importance between healthy nutrition and sobriety. Now I will discuss my opinions on how regular exercise and care for the body can significantly strengthen your mental state and consequently your sobriety.
Why is physical exercise important?
- Health Reasons – In addiction or alcoholism the person suffering often does not take very good care of their health. Some common physical illness that correlate with addiction are obesity, malnutrition, high blood pressure, liver issues, dry or red skin, and gastrointestinal problems. Getting sober, sometimes the person slowly gets his health back. However, some effects of drinking and drug use require some extra effort. This is the reason while physical exercise is so important to someone in early sobriety. Picking up an exercise regimen such as walking, biking, jogging, lifting weights, or swimming can strengthen the body and ease illnesses such as high blood pressure and excess weight.
- Calms the Mind– In early sobriety a person will often complain of racing thoughts, anxiety, or insomnia. Exercise is a great way to combat these. As little as 30 minutes of light exercise a day can lead to physical exhaustion. This exhaustion is a good thing! People who exercise throughout the day report less racing thoughts, quicker onset of sleep, and deeper sleep.
- Confidence and Self-Esteem – Even if we don’t want to admit it, our physical appearance is of some importance to us. When we look good, we feel good. Picking an exercise activity and sticking with it can do great things for our confidence and motivation. Setting exercise goals, such as running an 8-minute mile, and completing them can raise our self-esteem and be a positive factor in our self-image.
- Natural Endorphins – In sobriety it is important to avoid any artificial neurotransmitter releasers, such as alcohol and drugs. However, many people in sobriety enjoy releasing natural neurotransmitters through exercise. An example of this is what is commonly called a “runners high”, which is simply a natural release of endorphins through running. Lifting weights release similar chemicals. These chemicals can help lower stress and help motivate us to continue exercising. It is important to not ‘overdue’ exercise, and doing so can be labeled as cross-addiction.
So how do I get started?
The first couple days of exercising are often the most difficult. If you are not used to physical demanding activities, you will often be sore the next day. I would recommend to take it easy the first week, and set small and very achievable goals such as workout three times a week. After a few weeks of exercise, the benefits become clear to the person and their internal motivation to continue exercising rises. A common myth seems to be that you need to go to the gym to ‘exercise’. Running and biking is one of most widely available ways to work out the body. All it takes is a sidewalk or a park. Some other easy ‘at-home’ workouts include crunches and sit-ups. Many people in recovery also promote yoga as a great way to exercise with an emphasis on calming and healing the mind. The most important thing is to find what YOU enjoy doing and to stick with it.