The Habit of Regular Exercise in Recovery
When people give up an addiction, they embark on an exciting journey. Amazing things can start to happen to people who get sober. There is no telling where sobriety will take them. For many of these individuals, their journey begins in rehab. In order for these people to be prepared for what lies ahead, it will be necessary for them to be in good physical and mental shape. The habit of regular exercise is something that they will want to develop right at the beginning of their sobriety. This is why many rehab centers offer exercise as part of their program. It means that those clients going through rehab will in good shape for the journey ahead.
Benefits of Exercise
* It helps to keep them in good physical shape. This should mean that they will be less likely to develop certain medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can also help the individual live longer and be physically able to do the things they want to do even as they get older.
* It helps people control their body weight. This is because physical activity makes people burn more calories than they would otherwise. Exercise alone is probably not enough to help obese individuals reach a healthy weight, but it is effective at keeping the weight off.
* Exercise boosts gives people a mental boost and improves their mood. Those individuals who exercise regularly tend to be much happier than those who do not.
* Stress contributes to a great deal of mental and physical ill-health. Regular exercise not only allows the individual to let off steam, but it also helps them be better able to handle stress.
* Some people claim that they just do not have the energy for exercise. What these individuals fail to realize is that regular exercise would greatly increase their energy levels. They could then may use of this extra energy in other parts of their life.
Benefits of Exercise in Rehab
These are some of the many ways in which physical exercise will benefit to people in rehab:
* When people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, they tend not to take care of their bodies. This means that they can be in physically bad shape by the time they arrive at rehab. An exercise regime can start these individuals on the path back to physical fitness.
* Those individuals who are coming off opiates or benzodiazepine drugs can suffer from restless leg syndrome as part of their withdrawals. This is a condition where people need to keep moving their legs in order to escape discomfort. Exercise can ease the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
* When the individual leaves rehab they will have a great deal of time on their hands. Experimenting with different activities in rehab will allow people to discover what they enjoy. When they return home, they will then be able to sign up for a similar activity and give them something productive to do with their spare time.
* Exercise makes people feel good, and this is what addiction recovery is all about. Nobody gets sober in order to feel bad. In this light, it is logical that they would want to make exercise a part of their life right from the beginning.
* Early recovery can be a highly emotional time. There are likely to be occasions when the individual feels a bit overwhelmed by it all. Doing some exercise is a great way to regain control. It gives the individual the opportunity to burn off some tension.
* Exercising provides opportunities to think much more clearly about things. Great ideas come to people when they are exercising, and some of these thoughts can be life changing.
* Addicts tend to suffer from low self-esteem, and they can carry this low self-worth with them into recovery. Getting back into physical shape can be a boost to their confidence.
* Getting into the habit of regular exercise at the beginning of sobriety increases the chances of finding life more satisfying.
Types of Exercise in Rehab
The type of exercise available within a rehab program will vary greatly. These are the most common types:
* Yoga is now offered in many rehabs. This is a good type of exercise for people who are newly sober because it does not need to involve too much effort. The individual can start off with some gentle stretches. There are many different types of yoga, and they can benefit the individual physically, mentally and spiritually.
* Tai Chi is a gentle martial art that can be practiced by people of all fitness levels. The really nice thing about this activity is that it can also act as a type of moving meditation.
* Some rehabs have swimming pools. This can be a good fitness activity because it does not put too much pressure on the joints.
* Aerobic classes offer a great workout. They can be tailored to suit the needs of people who have not done any exercise in a long time.
* Some rehabs offer exotic activities such as scuba diving or rock climbing. These can be a wonderful alternative for those who are not attracted to other more traditional fitness activities.
Dangers of Exercise Addiction
It is suggested that the reason why some people fall into addiction more easily is that they have an addictive personality. This means that they have personal characteristics that make them more prone to this type of maladaptive behavior. The worry is that the same characteristics that drove them into substance abuse might also come into play with exercise. The idea is, if a little is good, then more is going to be better. Exercise addiction is dangerous because:
* It can lead to overtraining syndrome. This is where the physical and mental health of the individual deteriorates because of excessive exercise.
* Exercise addiction leads to neglecting other areas of recovery. This threatens the balance in life that maintaining sobriety requires.
* This type of addiction substitution can be part of the relapse process. It will lead the individual right back to alcohol or drug abuse.
* Fitness addiction can lead to symptoms of depression.
* The individual may neglect family and their career because they are so obsessed with exercise.
* People can develop a tolerance for exercise. This means that they need to keep on exercising more to get the same effect.
* People who are addicted to exercise can become obsessed with their body weight. They may develop anorexia or bulimia as a result of this.
Starting to Exercise in Recovery
There are a few things worth considering before starting an exercise program in recovery:
* If people have not exercised in a long time, or they have any preexisting physical condition, it is strongly advised that they speak to their doctor before starting up any activity.
* The mistake many people make when starting an exercise regime is that they are too enthusiastic in the beginning. This means that they attempt to do too much and either pick up an injury or just run out of steam. It is best if people transition gently into any type of new activity.
* There are many different types of fitness activities to choose from. The individual is likely to need to do a bit of experimentation before they find the one that is most suitable to them. This time spent experimenting with different activities can actually be quite fun. There are many fitness classes that offer the first trial lesson for free.
* In order to get the benefits of exercise, it is necessary to commit to regular practice. If people only exercise when they are in the mood then this is unlikely to bring much benefit. The other advantage of regular exercise is that it also encourages self-discipline; this is something that can benefit people in every aspect of their life.
* The old adage of no pain no gain is not helpful when beginning an exercise regime. The individual will not want to take it too easy, but they will need to learn how to listen to their body.
* In early recovery, it is good to choose a physical activity that also has a social element attached to it. The individual often needs to let go of their old social network once they become sober. They may now feel lonely because of this. Participation in physical activity can be a good way to socialize and meet new people. There are exercise clubs specifically aimed at people in recovery.