We all know how important it is to exercise. There are so many reasons – even beyond the visibly physical – to challenge the body on a regular basis. As someone in recovery, the benefits are even greater for you than they are for other people.
Unfortunately, life gets in the way. Even with the best intentions in mind, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time, energy, and motivation to cultivate and maintain a consistent exercise regimen. However, when you consider the vast and numerous reasons why exercise is vital to your health and overall continuing recovery, make a few changes, and put a few tips into practice, you’ll soon find that putting your physical fitness at the top of your priority list is easier than you might think.
Read on to learn about the benefits of exercise for people in recovery, and also to find out ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine now and onward into the future.
Benefits of Exercise for People in Recovery
Surely, you are already aware of the many benefits of regular exercise. Physically, it can help with weight loss, help you to build strong muscles and bones, increase your energy levels, and reduce risk of disease and illness. It can also help to decrease the occurrence and intensity of pain in the body. Further, people who exercise on a consistent basis sleep better at night, experience lower levels of stress and anxiety, have more robust sex lives, and, according to some studies, have better capacity for memory and have better overall brain health.
There are reasons that your teachers, doctors, and mentors have encouraged you to exercise your entire life, and they are undoubtedly all of the above.
As someone in recovery, these benefits go a step further, too. All of the above reasons apply tenfold to people who are recovering from addiction. While addicted individuals are heavy users, their bodies suffer immensely. Exercise can help to rebuild a person physically, as well as encourage the development of healthy patterns and habits in general.
Many people in recovery experience insomnia, but exercise will help get them back on track. Since stress is a major trigger for relapse, regular exercise’s ability to reduce stress can be quite helpful in this area. Also, many people in recovery discover that they have a lot of time on their hands; they need new and healthy hobbies to fill their days after breaking free from the hold of substance abuse, and working on one’s physical health through exercise is a very productive way to move forward.
Research in this area seems to confirm the benefits of exercise for people in recovery, too. According to one study, thirty-eight men and women who misused a variety of substances agreed to take part in group exercise three times a week for several months. Twenty people completed the exercise period, and a year later, five of them had quit their substance abuse altogether, and another ten of them reported decreased use.
It seems that exercise is especially good for people walking on the path of recovery. Of course, exercise is good for everyone, but this extra boost certainly suggests that individuals in recovery should take the development of a consistent, personal exercise regimen into consideration.
How to Fit Exercise Into a Busy Day and Life
You may think that you are too busy or tired to exercise, but that’s just an excuse. There are plenty of people out there that are more tired or busier than you who manage to exercise daily. Below, check out a number of tips on making exercise work for you. Some may be more helpful to you than others, but at least try to try each of them for a time to see what works best.
Choose exercise you enjoy.
You won’t stick with your fitness plan if you hate what you are doing. Choose activities you enjoy. If you tired of one type of exercise, try something else. The possibilities are endless. Try organized group sports, yoga, hiking, biking, dog walking, rock climbing, swimming, Zumba, or a million other things. There is something out there for everyone, you just have to figure out where your passion lies.
Have a plan.
Make a schedule and stick to it. Know when you are going to exercise and follow through with your plan. Carve out time for it and during that time, you are not allowed to do anything else. If you know what you will do before you begin, it will be a lot easier to get started each time.
Choose something over nothing.
If you’re feeling lazy or pressed for time, do an abbreviated version of your planned workout. When you don’t have time to go to the gym, at least take a jog around the block. If you can’t make it to your weekly yoga class, do a short yoga video instead. If it’s lack of motivation that is holding you back, you may be surprised how your motivation builds once you get off the couch and get started.
Take walks whenever you can.
Admit it – you have driven to the store when it is only two blocks away. Stop doing that. Get out there and start walking. Walk during lunch at work. Take the subway or bus and get off a stop or two early. Always take the stairs. Run errands on foot. If you start doing all these things, exercise will be natural, and will soon feel like a breeze.
Take a class or join a league.
When you sign up and commit to something, you are more likely to stick to it than just doing it on your own. If you are taking a class, you may be encourage not to miss next week’s instruction, and if you join a league, other people will be counting on you. Both of these things is a great way to get started and they are also good ways to get exposure to activities that you haven’t had the chance to try before.
Work out with friends.
When you work out with friends, you get to enjoy social time while you exercise. In doing so, you will find that the time passes much faster and that the activities themselves are much easier. Plus, just like with a league, above, you won’t want to disappoint you friends and back out at the last minute if you have made plans to do something fun together on a one-time or regular basis.
Everyone should exercise regularly, especially people in recovery. Although it may feel hard to get started at first, soon it will be easier and exercise will become second nature to you. You will feel weird on days you don’t participate and that too will soon be a motivational factor. The most important part is to just get started and keep on moving from there. It’s one day at a time, just like with everything else. Good luck!
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