5 REASONS WHY EXERCISE IN RECOVERY IS ESSENTIAL
At Serenity, we set our clients up with a gym membership and fitness routine as soon as they start working with us. We don’t do this so that everyone leaves with a beach body—though that’s an added bonus—we do it because exercise plays a huge role in recovery and our clients’ ultimate success. We do it because we believe in being the best.
We can look at all the scientific data in the world to support the importance of fitness in recovery, and there is plenty (check out this crazy rat study). But we don’t need the science—our clients and staff are living evidence. The reality is simple: of the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with, the ones who get involved in a fitness routine have better long-term results in sobriety and mental health. Requiring structure, accountability, and a sense of purpose, recovery and an exercise routine are perfectly symmetrical counterparts.
We challenge any skeptical sad-facer to put on a pump-up jam, jack the volume, go for a run, and then tell us what you think. Need more convincing? Here are five reasons why exercise is an essential piece of recovery:
1) IT GIVES YOU A NATURAL HIGH.
When you eliminate substances, your body and mind experience a significant drop in endorphins, triggering depression and cravings—working out releases endorphins, mimicking the feel-good sensation of drugs and helping fill this gap. Exercise also releases something called endocannabinoids, which acts similarly to THC and has been shown to decrease cravings and use among marijuana users.
2) IT REDUCES STRESS.
Hitting that CrossFit box or yoga studio fills your brain with galanin, a molecule that reduces stress. Stress triggers cravings, so less of that stuff means more resilience against relapse. Think Muhammad Ali needed help “decompressing” at the end of the day? That’s what I thought.
3) IT PROVIDES AN ALTERNATIVE TO USING.
It takes time to work out, and too much time is a toxic thing in early recovery. Before you’ve cultivated new interests that support a sober lifestyle, boredom can be a huge trigger. Exercise is an easy—and healthy—way to fill that time.
4) IT GIVES YOU STRUCTURE.
Structure is the backbone of any successful recovery. That’s why evenings, weekends, and days off can make you want to call your old dealer or hit up the liquor store. Scheduling an hour-long workout on those empty days can be the lynchpin that leads to a full day of productive activities.
5) IT DISTRACTS YOU.
When you’re trying to grit your teeth through the last sprint at Barry’s Bootcamp, it’s pretty hard to think about using. Sounds simple, but it’s true. Try it if you don’t believe it.
Everyone who has gone through the process of recovery has heard a mentor say, “There is only one thing you need to change: everything.” Luckily, one positive change leads to another—when people in early recovery begin taking care of themselves through healthy eating and physical fitness, they also develop greater confidence and better energy. This speaks directly to the mental, physical, and spiritual overhaul required to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Doing sprints, pumping iron, and perfecting your downward dogs are just some ways to set the wheels in motion for this vital mind-body revolution.
We believe in dismantling the stigma of “alcoholic” or “addict” and being the absolute best. It takes strength to do that—so get off the couch, guys. No excuses.