In this blog we cover five benefits of exercise in recovery that we see in guests at Herren Wellness.
1. Natural Stress Reliever and Anti-Depressant
Oftentimes substance use disorder has co-occurring anxiety and depression. Regular exercise releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain which regulate mood. Mood swings along with anxiety/depression tend to peak in the early recovery stage of withdrawal, so beginning an exercise regimen early in sobriety is a positive way to combat the extremes of emotion. The endorphin rush provided by exercise produces feelings of happiness and euphoria, which are the feelings being chased in active use with drugs and alcohol. Instead of falling back into bad habits people in recovery can use exercise to experience a beneficial “high” that will naturally elevate mood and reduce stress.
2. Boosts Self-Esteem and Motivation
For some, the years of drug and alcohol takes a toll on self-esteem and motivation. Exercise is a great place to start when building a foundation for recovery. One study found that seeing the encouraging results of regular exercise has a positive effect on a sober person’s overall motivation to change behavior. This is significant because recovery requires deep motivation, a willingness to change, and if exercise can encourage this internal shift then it should be considered as a valuable tool in the recovery process. One of the biggest things that drugs and alcohol can take is from a person’s is a sense of self. When incorporating exercise into a person’s recovery it has been shown that merely 20 minutes a day resulted in boosted self-confidence. Regaining a sense of self along with motivation to change and continue on the path of recovery are invaluable takeaways which exercise provides.
3. Helps Develop a Routine
At Herren Wellness we create a schedule each day for guests, and always at the top is exercise either in the gym with trainer Nick, or yoga with Rachel. It is important for our guests to begin their day with exercise because we find that beginning a day intentionally and with structure promotes a routine throughout the rest of the day. When people are struggling with SUD routine oftentimes goes out the window, so it is essential that in recovery a schedule is built. Exercise can be used strategically in sobriety such as booking an early morning class to encourage an earlier bedtime, or booking a class after work to avoid the temptation of happy hour. Some in early recovery will plan for a significant goal such as running a half-marathon, where training will take up time before the big event. However exercise is scheduled it helps structure a routine which promotes good decision-making in recovery.