Fitness and Exercise Tips for Those in Substance Abuse Recovery

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Comedian, mental health champion, and recovery advocate Russell Brand is known for championing yoga and meditation and how both practices continue to help him in his quest for sobriety. He is known for being a practitioner of various forms of meditation, such as body scans and breathwork, and he shares that this ancient practice has helped him control his emotions and reorganize his perception.

Brand is not the only person who advocates for these practices. Experts and multiple studies say that addiction is a treatable health condition, and exercise is one of the most powerful tools one can use in their journey to recovery. It’s also no small wonder that aside from therapy, drug and alcohol detoxes, and other tried-and-tested methods for getting clean, recovery centers and facilities also have plenty of physical programs and activities to help their patients regain control of their bodies and entire beings.

Physical activity and exercise can be highly beneficial to those recovering from substance abuse. Here are some tips and pointers for those in recovery to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.

Know Your Whys

Before you begin, establish first your goals for working out. List down all of its benefits and your goals, and consider creating a visual reminder in your room so that you find yourself motivated every time you feel like giving up or taking the easy way out. Here are some examples of reminders you can use:

  • What compulsions are you trying to fight? Is it painful withdrawal symptoms, or is it your mind screaming at you to contact your favorite dealer? Whatever temptations you face daily, remind yourself that working out is a healthy way to blow off some steam and let your frustrations out.
  • If your former substance abuse addiction took a toll on your body, remember that exercise can help you get back on track.

person running

Only you get to determine your goals for working out, and only you can decide why you need to start. If you establish your goals for exercising and create a picture in your head of the future you want for yourself, it will help you stay the course no matter how hard it may be.

Set Yourself Up for Success

When it comes to creating a workout plan, make sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure. This doesn’t mean you need to do the bare minimum, but it does mean creating a reasonable set of goals to encourage yourself to keep going once you achieve them. Here are some tips for setting yourself up for success:

  • Don’t be afraid to start slow. Unlike drugs and alcohol, working out is not always pleasurable. It is often painful and uncomfortable, so it’s vital that out take it easy and that you’re gentle with yourself once you start up again, especially if you started becoming sedentary while you were still using.
  • Incorporate some variety in your workouts. A study found that there is a connection between boredom and risky behaviors among adolescents. Still, we don’t need official research to know that boredom is one of the common experiences and triggers of those in recovery. Mix it up from time to time by switching from cardio to jogging to dancing to yoga—choose workouts that you like and enjoy doing.
  • Experiment with different workout styles at varying intensities during different times of the day until you find a regimen that works for you.

Invite People You Trust to Join You

Working out and physical fitness need not be solitary—just like your recovery. Remember the part that other people played in your sobriety, and remind yourself that if they have been with you for the long haul, then they can also be a source of support as you begin your fitness journey. Invite your friends to go with you to the gym or some fun classes. If the idea of working out beside strangers is still overwhelming, you and your loved ones can explore some at-home workouts that you all can do together.

Consult With Your Doctor

And last but not least, don’t forget to consult with your primary care provider about the best and safest workout routine for you. Your doctor is the best person to provide you with the information you need with regard to physical fitness and how it impacts your recovery, so don’t hesitate to come to them with your questions and clarifications.

Recovering from substance abuse is a holistic endeavor, so don’t neglect your physical health on your road to healing. You can do it!

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