Posted by Steps to Recovery on December 11, 2012

A very important part of recovery is movement. There are many ways to do this! Yoga, dance, running, using the gym or bicycling are just a few amazing and fun ways to get your body working. Moving your body and exercising yourself improves physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. It can help reduce cravings, research shows that exercise actually mimics the effects of drugs and alcohol. For example, exercise helps reduce cocaine cravings by increasing dopamine concentrations in the brain in the same areas that are affected by cocaine. There is no doubt that movement can help a great deal in recovery, for a number of reasons.

Many people who decide to begin recovery for addictive substances are not in good physical condition when they begin their journey. In active addiction, people rarely do self care such as exercise or healthy eating, not to mention the toll on the body that the substance itself takes. Most people in early recovery will have a low threshold for physical activity, if this is you, don’t give up! You are not alone and it will get better.

It is important to be mindful and remain in a supportive level of movement for what your body is capable of when you are exercising. Working out too hard or too much can cause physical injury, you can get burned out and it could even cause negative long term health problems. It is important to listen to your body when you are working out and honor where you are, pushing yourself to do just a little more each time, but not so much that you are hurting yourself. There is also the potential to replace one addiction with another, and exercising can be addictive. This type of addiction can be just as destructive as substance addiction, make sure to pay attention to what you are doing and why you are doing it.

There are many benefits to movement in recovery. Exercising produces an increase in chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine that are related to cognitive function and clearer thinking. It can help you sleep better, it can lessen depression, movement boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It may also lower the risk of relapse for a number of reasons, a few being that people who feel better about themselves are less likely to use and people who are taking care of themselves are more health conscious and less likely to risk their good health when they have invested in it. Exercising, as you can see, is a very important part of recovery.

What do you do to get your body moving?