Drug addiction affects more than a person’s mind and their ability to function normally. It affects their physical health as well by changing their body’s chemistry. This is especially noticeable in the first months of sobriety and therefore, needs to be dealt with.
One of the best ways to overcome these weaknesses during addiction recovery is physical exercise. Not only is it a great stress reliever but helps a person with anxiety and makes them feel fresher. This is why physical exercise is a must during addiction recovery.
To explain things more clearly, here are 5 ways a person can benefit from physical exercise during addiction recovery:
1. Relieve Stress
When a person starts drug detox, withdrawing from drugs can cause stress. Stress is a major cause of relapse according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Physical exercise directly affects the part of the pain that is responsible for managing stress levels and anxiety. People who take part in both low intensity or high intensity exercise routines are shown to reduce stress and become more relaxed.
Exercise stimulates hormones that reduce pain, and exercising regularly can help balance the body’s stress hormone levels by managing adrenaline. It also triggers the production of more serotonin, which is an anti-stress hormone and helps improve the mood of a person.
2. Improves Sleep
The relationship between sleep and exercise has been extensively researched for years and it has indicated that regular exercise can help get rid of sleep-related problems. Sleep is an important part of a person’s recovery because getting an adequate amount of rest helps relax the body and reduce fatigue. In the early days of drug detox, people can feel restless and sleepless due to withdrawal.
Research has found that by performing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise in a week, a person can enhance their sleep quality up to 65%! It is because exercise can increase the core body temperature and the drop in that temperature afterward helps the body relax and cool down, which induces sleep. Long-term exercise (from 4-24 weeks) can help people fall asleep faster, improve their sleeping hours and treat other symptoms of insomnia.
3. Helps Resist Cravings
According to a study conducted to study the relationship between regular exercise and abstinence in 2009, it was indicated that following an exercise regimen can increase the number of abstinent days and decrease cravings. The study’s participants followed a regular exercise plan for 12 weeks and felt fewer substance cravings than those who did not exercise.
This happens because when a person exercises, the blood moves through the heart quicker, and the amount of oxygen and nutrients going to the body’s muscles increases. This increases the body’s energy levels and boosts the ability to resist substance cravings and prevent relapse.
4. Protects The Brain
Long-term exposure to drugs causes damage to the white matter of the brain that links the brain cells to one another. According to a study conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder, regular aerobic exercise can help protect the brain and rebuild the white matter of the brain.
It is really important to restore the brain’s structure because damage to the white matter can lead to intense seizures during alcohol withdrawal.
Moreover, long-term drug abuse causes the nerve cells to lose dopamine transporters which reduce the person’s ability to focus and process motivation. Regular exercise can help release more dopamine and stimulate the growth of nerve cells and their connections.
5. Improves Mood And Balance Emotions
The Detoxification process is often followed by mood changes that fluctuate intensely during the early days of recovery. Physical exercise stimulates the production of endorphins that cause positive feelings such as happiness and euphoria.
According to research, these are the ‘hoped for’ feelings that cause people to start and continue drug abuse. According to Mayo Clinic, exercising 30 minutes every day during recovery can help bring a positive change in a person’s mood and help balance emotions.
Physical exercise has many benefits for recovering addicts and can help them prevent relapse by increasing the abstinence rate for substance use according to research. When a person feels more relaxed, stress-free, energetic, and has plenty of sleep, they have lesser chances of returning to drugs and alcohol.
Addiction can affect a person’s life and health in many ways and drug detox along with physical exercise and determination can help a person get back on their feet and lead a healthy life!