It is mostly common knowledge that drug or excessive alcohol use can be very harmful to your health, even among users themselves. Premature death or at least heavy damage to liver, heart, and throat among addicts is very common, and often one of the main motivational factors causing people to work on their recovery.
Even beyond the health risks of drug use itself, addiction makes it hard to take care of yourself. An addict is so consumed with getting the next hit and being under the influence continually, that taking care of his or her body with healthy physical activity, regular sleep, and healthy eating is often impossible.
Thus, one of the important parts of the recovery process is learning how to establish habits of taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle. For many people, establishing a routine of fitness is an important part of this process. Putting physical activity in your schedule can have many benefits to your recovery.
Exercise is good for your body
You have spent so long abusing your body and ignoring its real needs, and so it is very important to develop habits that will take care of yourself. In giving your lungs, heart, and muscles a workout, you are helping do essential repair work, helping your body heal itself.
Exercise can do a great deal to protect against the effects of drug use and boast your recovery significantly. But even beyond these direct physical benefits, exercise can be a very helpful tool in helping you become free of your addictions.
Exercise teaches you how to feel good sober
One of the central reasons maintaining sobriety is so hard is because substance abuse often, at least in the moment, produces a lot of good feelings. One of the central reasons for this is because these substances flood the brain with dopamine and other chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure.
Sometimes, this can mean that sobriety can temporarily produce hard feelings, as your brain chemistry tries to cope without having a steady steam of pleasurable neurotransmitters.
The good news is that these neurotransmitters can also be created naturally. Saying that you don't need drugs or alcohol to have a good time is not just a cliché, but is a scientific truth, and one you can use to your advantage in recovery.
It turns out that physical activity and exercise is one of the most reliable ways for the brain to acquire these neurotransmitters naturally. Exercise can lift your mood, help you to feel good about yourself and the world around you, decrease your feelings of stress, and give you an enjoyable way to fill the void in your time formally taken up by addiction.
How to get started!
The best way to really experience these benefits is simply to do them, to get up and work at adding more physical activity into your daily routine. There are a variety of ways to develop physical fitness, so you should start with something you love, or anything that resonates with you and your life and fits into your routine.
You can try walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, riding bikes, yoga, or a competitive sport. Don't try to exhaust yourself, compare yourself to anyone else's standards, or start out with anything too rigorous.
Even going on a short walk can do a great deal of good. Remember to "warm up" by stretching first, and then "cool down" with something gentle, in order to build up your endurance and increase your strength. Feel free to go alone, with friends, with music, or in silence – whatever works for you. The important thing is that you will be doing a simple act that can do a great deal of good in your recovery.