When you use drugs or alcohol, your body and mind are impacted. In fact, addiction changes your body chemistry. Once those substances are removed, you may be left feeling anxious, depressed and more sensitive to life’s stresses. Exercise can help shift the tide on those negative emotions and is a powerful tool to support addiction recovery. There are many physical and mental benefits of exercise, including the following*:

·     Controlling weight
·     Combating health conditions
·     Improving mood
·     Boosting energy
·     Improving sleep

These points alone are great reasons on their own to workout. But did you know that adding exercise into your everyday routine could supercharge your recovery efforts? A 2012 study by Mark Smith and Wendy Lynch found that brains can be trained to register exercise as a reward, similar to how an addict's brain registers drugs and alcohol as a reward.

We’re sharing three key benefits of retraining your brain and incorporating an exercise regimen into your journey to recovery.


Manage stress

When a person feels stressed, changes occur in the mind and body to engage the “fight-or-flight” response. Understanding that the body's chemical response to stress can cause additional mental stress, it's no wonder so many people look for a solution to manage this cycle. For many in recovery, this has been known to heighten problematic drug and alcohol use.

When you may have turned to a substance or alcohol as a way to manage your stress, exercise is a healthy alternative.


A new routine

People are creatures of habit and, by nature, like to follow a routine. If your day included drugs and alcohol, you might be feeling a gap.This gap should be filled by a healthy alternative to support lasting recovery. Exercise is a productive alternative to drugs and alcohol with lasting physical and mental benefits.

Workouts can help you structure your day by setting exercise sessions during certain parts of the day. For example, early morning workouts can minimize the temptation to stay up late to drink or use drugs. Or an after-work fitness class can be used as an alternative to the typical happy hour.


Increased self-confidence

Taking care of your body can help you feel better about yourself by creating a healthy body image and improving self-esteem. Also, setting and maintaining exercise goals can help reinforce the idea that you can achieve what you set your mind to.

This study by Kirsten Kaya Roessler found that seeing the encouraging results of regular exercise can positively affect former substance users' overall motivation to change behavior.

If you or someone you know is looking for addiction recovery support, call us today to learn more about our programs: (513) 475-5300.


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