Why So Many People in Addiction Recovery Get Heavily Into Fitness
There are many people in addiction recovery who find themselves getting into fitness and wellness after the treatment process. Many of these people are so involved that they begin to compete in whatever sport it is they love – Jui Jitsu, running, surfing, triathlons, soccer, etc. These people are in incredible shape and look like the picture of health and wellness. One would never guess that they are the same people who were once heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, hitting their personal rock bottom.
How Fitness Helps Addiction Recovery
There’s no question that fitness is beneficial, and it can certainly help move the process of addiction recovery along. For a person who wants to stay sober, selecting an activity that they can really get into and enjoy doing is key. If they get bored, they are more than likely to give up after a while, like so many people do.
When people are in active addiction, they usually pay little attention to their body and well-being. A person may cast aside essential components of a healthy life, like exercise and a balanced diet. This alone can make a person decline significantly mentally and physically and contribute to their addiction.
Once a person is in addiction recovery, it is all about getting healthier and stronger, one day at a time. When you begin a fitness regimen, it’s important to start slow and gradually increase over time so that the body doesn’t become exhausted and/or injured.
A fitness regimen in recovery can help you to get in touch with your body and mind. All the while, you are strengthening your body and sweating out harmful toxins that have most likely built up over years of addiction. It is also a natural way to reduce stress and have a more positive outlook on life. When you start to care about your body, you’ll be less likely to pick up alcohol or drugs. Exercise also naturally combats depression, which is another bonus point for picking up the habit!
When Fitness Turns Into An Addiction
The only downside to physical exercise in addiction recovery is when it gets over-the-top. For example, a male addict in recovery who spends four hours daily at the gym, or a female who runs on the treadmill for two hours and develops an unhealthy body image.
Addiction exists in many forms, and excessive exercising can most definitely be one of them. There is such thing as too much of a good thing; trading one addiction for another is not a healthy way to cope.
Exercise should be a way to become present and mindful. It becomes a problem when a person is using it as a means to escape because that just means it is replacing the old drug or alcohol habit. This form of escapism is present when a person has an over-the-top focus on their body. Sadly, no matter how fit they are, they insist that they aren’t good enough. This kind of thinking isn’t healthy.
Signs of Exercise Addiction
There are a few keys ways to recognize exercise dependence. They include:
- Spending too much time on your fitness
- An injury, often due to exertion
- Exercising more than is healthy
- Agitation due to a skipped workout
- Happiness is compromised by body image
- Relationships, work, school, and other responsibilities suffer on account of exercise
Developing a Healthy Fitness Routine in Addiction Recovery
Exercise is a wonderful part of addiction recovery — as long it’s not overdone. The number one thing is to find an exercise regimen that works so that the person will stick with it and most of all enjoy it. It is completely personal and can be as simple as walking the dog for a few miles on a daily basis, to a yoga practice, to whatever else suits that individual’s needs. Working out can take any form the practitioner wants it to.
Most current research still indicates that 30 minutes a day of any activity – even walking – most days a week can reap huge benefits. Some of the other benefits of activity include:
- Added structure to the day. Signing up for classes or having a time put aside for a workout is a commitment and adds to a person’s sense of responsibility.
- It’s a hobby. Hobbies are important in recovery because they take up time and give the person something to do when they are bored instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.
- Exercise increases endorphins. This is a chemical that stabilizes and boosts mood and makes a person feel more optimistic.
- Exercise will help the healing process. In recovery, the body, mind, and spirit are in the process of healing. Besides that, it can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, help the brain to heal from any damage caused by drugs or drinking, and can help a person live a long, happy, and healthy life.
Starting an exercise regimen in recovery can be just what a person needs to keep them on the straight and narrow path to sustained sobriety. The key, as with everything, is moderation and to avoid taking it to the extreme.