When we think of exercise we probably think in terms of the gym, or in terms of dedicated sports personalities that have a level of fitness many of us can only dream of. Maybe I’m exposing my own thinking here but generally I’ve seen fitness as a far-off shore, unattainable or a far-off memory, something that I had in the past, as a youngster.
I once worked in a rehab that saw exercise as a negative thing and discouraged it because it linked exercise in recovery as another obsession to be avoided. I was eventually able to introduce a programme into that place, after some resistance from staff, calling it “eating and exercise for Recovery”. The rationale being that if we could organise healthier food, regular exercise and encourage a good nights sleep, as an integral part of the programme, then we would see improved therapeutic outcomes for minimal additional cost. The project worked well, the residents benefited and outcomes (and the main programme process) improved as a result.
Exercise can play an important role in addiction recovery, as it provides a number of benefits that can support physical, emotional, and mental health.
Here are some potential benefits of exercise in addiction recovery:
1. Improved physical health:
Exercise can help to improve physical health by increasing cardiovascular endurance, building strength, and boosting immune function. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as many substances can take a toll on the body.
2. Reduced cravings:
Exercise has been shown to reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol by increasing the production of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with pleasure and reward.
3. Reduced stress and anxiety:
Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosters. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as stress and anxiety can be triggers for relapse.
4. Improved self-esteem and confidence:
Exercise can help to improve self-esteem and confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment and progress. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness can be common.
5. Social support:
Exercise can provide an opportunity to connect with others who are also in recovery or who are supportive of recovery efforts. This can provide a sense of community and accountability, which can be important during the recovery process.
Sometimes, exercise can be as simple as a walk in a green space, I live in semi-rural location where its relatively easy to find green space but if you’re in an urban space you may have to work a bit harder to find somewhere green outdoors.
However, the search for a green space to walk in will be worth the effort because walking in a green space, even for short periods of time can provide a number of benefits for people in recovery from addiction, including:
1. Improved mental health:
Walking in a green space has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving mood. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as many people may experience anxiety and depression as they adjust to sobriety.
2. Reduced stress:
Walking in a green space can help to reduce stress levels by providing a sense of calm and relaxation. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as stress can be a trigger for relapse.
3. Improved sleep:
Walking in a green space has been shown to improve sleep quality, which can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as many people in recovery may struggle with insomnia or other sleep disturbances.
4. Connection with nature:
Walking in a green space can provide an opportunity to connect with nature, which can have a positive effect on overall well-being. This can be particularly important during addiction recovery, as many people may have lost touch with nature during their substance use.
Overall, walking in a green space can provide a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits for people in recovery from addiction, making it an excellent addition to a comprehensive recovery program.