Most of us think of exercise as preventative, helping us avoid weight gain and the diseases that come with a lack of general fitness. But, research shows that physical fitness can also facilitate recovery and strengthen the effects of addiction treatment. Improving your mental health is also an important aspect of recovery. Find out how to develop a long-term wellness routine so you can get back on track toward health.
How Exercise Helps Make Recovery Easier
Exercise benefits our mental activity, increases muscle strength, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation and improves our body’s ability to regulate hormones. When someone is in recovery from addiction, their body still craves the euphoria that the addictive behavior used to produce. Exercise can help with this because it naturally leads to the release of endorphins in the brain. These bind to receptors to provide pain relief, reduce anxiety and leave us with good feelings.
Additionally, exercise causes the release of serotonin, which helps reduce symptoms of depression. It’s also effective at combating stress by reducing the amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. Finally, a fitness routine provides a useful distraction from negative thoughts because it keeps your mind and body occupied at the same time. The mood-boosting and distracting effects of exercise can make recovery much easier for you to handle.
The Best Types of Exercise for Recovery
Experts from The Harvard Medical School recommend aerobic exercises that promote blood flow to your brain, filling your brain with the oxygen it needs to repair damages. Typical cardio or aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, swimming and bike riding. It’s important to find the right kind of workout that fits your needs. For example, walking or hiking in nature can provide more calming benefits to your brain than simply getting on a treadmill. Speaking of calming, yoga is an excellent exercise choice for people looking for something more meditative and less physically exerting.
On the other hand, many people prefer weight training while in recovery. According to Huffington Post, weight training protects your body from future injury by strengthening your bones and improving your balance. Weight training also has the added bonus of making you look good which is a fantastic confidence booster!
Improve and Strengthen Your Mental Health
Exercise is already great for improving mental health. However, there is more you can do for your mind to help it through recovery. Eating balanced, nutritious meals will increase levels of helpful neurotransmitters in your brain that can keep you feeling calm and focused. Many of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables help with mood regulation. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can help your brain rebuild itself and restore cognitive functions.
Improving your mental health can also be done through positive thinking and keeping a gratitude journal. Try to stay mindful of the present moment and let go of negative emotions that creep up from the past. It may also be helpful to open up to someone or even help others to improve your self-esteem. Finally, allowing yourself to take breaks and get a solid night of sleep will do wonders for your mental health.
How to Stick to a Long-Term Wellness Routine
Once you’ve figured out which exercises and mental health practices work best for you, develop a wellness routine that you can stick to in the long-term. To maintain and healthy routine, plan ahead and set clear goals. This may mean planning your workouts for the week, making sure your house is stocked with healthy food options, or setting aside time in your schedule for rest and meditation. Keeping up your routine will be easier if you include activities that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to something you love as long as it’s not damaging to your health. It can also be useful to develop some hobbies so you have fun activities to fill up free time.
The benefits of physical fitness can be invaluable for anyone in recovery and can also help prevent relapse in the future. Stop struggling through recovery when you can make it easier by focusing on exercise and wellness. Even when you feel like your recovery is over, keeping up a healthy wellness routine will continue to benefit your life.