9 Ways Exercise Can Help You Overcome an Addiction
If you are struggling to overcome an addiction, you know firsthand how challenging it can be. You need every tool available in your arsenal. If you don’t have an exercise routine already, it’s time to get moving.
Why? Exercise helps you to overcome addiction in several ways. It provides multiple psychological and physiological benefits that make the road to recovery smoother. Read on to discover why you need to tune into a streaming fitness program today.
It Provides Structure to Your Routine
Right now, you might feel a lot like an autumn leaf blown about on the breeze. When you have an addiction, your life can seem chaotic even when there isn’t a pandemic sweeping the globe. You might find it challenging to get out of bed in the morning, for example. However, if you know you have to lace up your sneakers, you have a purpose.
Chronobiology is the study of how the human body clock influences behavior. Addictions can mess with this internal clock, which can increase cravings for the substance of choice to restore a sense of normalcy. It takes about four to six weeks to reset your circadian rhythms, and exercise can lead structure to your day while you adjust.
It Serves as a Substitute
Many recovering addicts find that they don’t know what to do when they quit their substance of choice. Almost 65% of recovering addicts also experience issues with eating disorders, gambling or impulse control. Exercise serves as a healthy substitute addiction.
Can you work out too much? Yes, you can, but human physiology makes it much more challenging to overdo it on the treadmill than it is the bottle. For many, replacing using the addictive substance with a workout — even a brief one — helps them to stay clean.
It Eases Anxiety
Recovering addicts often struggle with anxiety disorders. This comorbid diagnosis can occur for two reasons. You may have had an underlying condition to begin with, and you may have used your addiction to self-medicate. Additionally, some substances, like alcohol, alter the function and levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, which can lead to feelings of panic during withdrawal.
When you work out for an hour or less, the levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline drop in your body. This decrease can create feelings of calm. Prolonged sessions longer than an hour can increase cortisol production, though. For best results during your recovery, do go for a 5K run, but hold off on the marathon training for the moment.
It Alleviates Depression
Many recovering addicts also battle depression. You might miss your old friends, even though you don’t want to return to the lifestyle they embraced. You could also feel significant remorse over acts that you did while using.
One study of 30 moderately depressed men asked them to walk for 20 to 30 minutes, three days per week. When the research concluded, all participants reported that the exercise program alleviated their symptoms. The next time you feel so down that you want to reach for the bottle, try taking a walk around the block instead.
It Gives You More Energy
If you used a stimulant like cocaine, you might have done so to increase your energy levels. You might feel tired and listless as you withdraw. While it sounds ironic, exercising does boost your overall energy levels, as long as you do not take it to extremes. For the best results, most experts recommend taking 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly.
It Connects You With Others
Addiction can isolate you. However, when you go out for your morning walk, you’ll get to see other familiar faces — at least, once quarantine ends. Eventually, you will start greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. These small conversations help you feel more accepted by your community and can combat loneliness.
It Improves Your Self-Esteem
When you work out, you increase the levels of endorphins in your brain. These natural but non-addictive opioid-like substances make you feel good. You also get an ego boost when you look in the mirror or step on the scale. Exercising helps maintain healthy body weight, and it builds muscles. Go ahead and get those guns out — show off those biceps!
It Helps Keep Your Hormones Regulated
Your hormones can increase cravings for substances like alcohol and drugs, as well as unhealthy foods. Women who struggle with anxiety or depression, as well as addiction, know how their changing hormonal levels can influence their moods and behavior. Exercise regulates the function of several hormones, including estrogen and testosterone, making the monthly roller coaster more reasonable to bear. This regulation benefits both genders, but it may prove especially beneficial for women with conditions like PCOS or PMDD.
It Makes You Sleep More Soundly at Night
Finally, when you can’t sleep, you might feel tempted to reach for your substance of choice to help you get your Zzz’s. However, drinking alcohol interrupts normal sleep function, as do many drugs. When you get a vigorous workout, you feel more relaxed and tired at the end of the day. You will fall asleep more quickly and find slumber more restful, which improves your mood and overall sense of well-being.
Embrace Exercise and Overcome Addiction
If you are struggling to overcome addiction, you should embrace an exercise routine. You will feel better overall and find the battle less wearying with the help of a workout.