When people give up an addiction they can feel a bit unsure about how to fill their time. Unless they find productive things to do, they may begin to believe that sobriety is dull. This is dangerous because if people are bored they may be tempted to return to substance abuse. Luckily, there are many wonderful things to do in sobriety. Those who are established in sobriety will usually complain that there is not enough hours in the day to do all the things they want to do. One rewarding activity that people in recovery may want to consider is bicycling.
There are some great health benefits if people cycle regularly such as:
* Improved stamina. This means that the individual can exert energy for a long period of time. This is beneficial in daily life because it means that people can do more without getting tired.
* Stress Relief. Going for a ride on a bicycle is a great way to relieve stress. This is good news because stress is a contributing factor in so many diseases.
* Burned calories. This makes it easier for people to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Cycling for half an hour burns about 150 calories. It also increases the metabolic rate of the body so that people continue to burn an increased amount of calories even after they have stopped cycling for the day.
* Enjoyed by people of all ages. One cyclist continues to take his bike out every day at 103 years of age.
* Reduced symptoms of depression.
* Increased bone mass. This can be particularly important to people as they get older.
* Increased muscle mass, not just in the legs, but in the whole body. This new muscle will not only mean that the individual will feel stronger, but it will also replace fat and mean that the individual will burn even more calories. This is because muscle tissue uses more calories than fat tissue. This exercise also improves muscle tone which ensures that it can do its job more effectively.
* Healthy heart. If a person cycles for 20 miles every week, it can cut the risk of coronary heart disease by half.
* Improved coordination. This is because the whole body is involved in the activity.
* Decreased obesity. Cycling is a gentle way for such individuals to increase their physical fitness while burning calories.
* Inexpensive means to physical fitness. There is no need to pay any expensive gym membership. The only real expense is buying a bike. The extras are optional and can be bought over time.
Bicycling can be a good activity for people to take up if they are recovering from an addiction. Some of the benefits of this hobby for those in sobriety include:
* Cycling is good for increasing self-esteem. Addiction destroys people not only physically but also mentally. By the time the individual is finished with alcohol and drugs their feeling of self-worth can be low. Cycling gives people the opportunity to increase their fitness levels and develop some mastery over their body – this in turn will increase self-esteem.
* Those individuals who plan to use a recovery fellowship may find that cycling is a wonderful way to get to meetings. It is more convenient than public transport and it is easy to find a parking space when you have a bike. Riding a bike will not only help the individual get to their meetings, but they will be increasing their fitness level as they do it.
* The newly sober usually find that they have a great deal of free time on their hands, hours that they would have previously devoted to their substance abuse. Boredom can be highly dangerous for people recovering from an addiction. It could be a relapse trigger. Bicycling can help the individual make productive use of this spare time.
* A common reason people are finally able to give up their addiction is that they become sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. They want to healthy again and cycling is an activity that will allow them to achieve this ambition.
* Giving up an addiction often means saying goodbye to drinking and drugging buddies. People can feel lonely when they first become sober until they get a chance to make new friends. Bicycling can offer a good opportunity to meet new people, especially if the individual enters races or joins a bicycle club.
Addicts are accused of suffering from a damaging misconception, the idea that if a little of something is good then more must be better. This can be a dangerous fallacy when it comes to an activity like bicycling. If the individual becomes obsessive about cycling they could end up with serious problems such as:
* When people cycle to much they can develop a condition known as overtraining syndrome. Instead of benefiting the individual, their fitness regime can begin to cause damage to their body and mind. They symptoms of overtraining syndrome include depression, chronic fatigue, irritability, anorexia, mental breakdown, increased risk of picking up infections, heart problems and recurrent injuries.
* The individual will increase their risk of relapse back to addiction. This is because they will be neglecting other areas of their life. Sobriety requires that the individual lives a balanced life. Exercise addiction is a way that people avoid dealing with their problems, and this is always dangerous.
*This type of obsession makes people feel miserable. When they are not exercising they feel guilty. They find it a real struggle to take even one day off from their exercise regime. Instead of this activity being something that makes life more enjoyable it completely takes over. It stops being just fun.
* This is like other types of addictions in that the individual will develop a tolerance to it. This means that they will keep on needing to do more in order to get the same effect.
* It will interfere with other areas of the person’s life. They will be less effective in work and may have to take days off because of injuries picked up in training. This obsession with fitness also usually means that the individual will neglect their family, a repeat performance of the pain they caused because of their addiction to alcohol or drugs.
If people do want to take up bicycling in recovery they will need to consider a few things first:
* If people are physically out of shape, or dealing a medical condition, it is advisable that they seek medical advice before commencing this type of activity. In most instances, the physician will be positive about the idea, but it is always good to check first.
* A huge mistake that newbie cyclists make is overdoing it in the beginning. They are so enthusiastic that they try to clock up too many miles in their first few rides. This means that they either pick up an injury or lose their motivation. The best advice is for people to start off slowly and build up their millage over a couple of months. There are cycling programs that people can follow in order to build up their strength and stamina without picking up injuries.
* If people are new to cycling they will need to put some effort into developing their technique. Even those individuals who have some experience with bikes will benefit from improving their pedal stroke.
* There are many great resources available on bicycling. It is not necessary to learn everything, but it can be a great help to read an introduction book on the subject. There are also plenty of free articles, videos, and podcasts online devoted to cycling. Such resources can help people avoid the common mistakes. New knowledge can also keep things fresh.
* Cycling with other people can be great fun. It also increases motivation and adds a social element to the activity. When people have become a bit more experienced at cycling they may even decide to go on bicycle tours or holidays. Travelling the world while sitting on a saddle is highly recommended.
* If cyclists do not add a bit of variety to their routine things can become a bit stale. It is better to have a number of cycling routes that include different terrain. This variety will decrease boredom and make it more likely that the individual will keep on cycling long-term.
* One of the most crucial considerations with cycling is personal safety. This means following the rules of the road, wearing a good helmet and keeping the bike maintained in good condition.