{Guest Post} Overcome Addiction With Exercise

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Here is How Making Exercise Part of Your Lifestyle Helps You Overcome Addiction

By: Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder. She runs SpiritFinder to provide information for people with mental illness.

Improving your physical fitness can be the key to your recovery from addiction.  A good workout routine can improve how you feel and help you cope.  Here are some of the ways taking care of your body can restore you physically and mentally.

Working out is good for what ails you

We’ve all heard that exercise is good for your body, but you may be surprised to find that working out can also benefit your mind.  Some studies show that aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, gardening and dancing reduce anxiety and depression.  

There are many benefits in making exercise part of your lifestyle.  Participating in a regular exercise routine can:

  • Help you sleep better
  • Relieve your stress
  • Increase your energy and stamina 
  • Put you in a better mood
  • Make you feel more alert
  • Help you lose weight
  • Reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health
  • Improve your sex drive

Exercise can help you cope

Recovering addicts may have even more reasons to start exercising.  According to studies cited by CNN, exercise increases levels of a chemical in the brain called dopamine.  Dopamine can give you a healthy version of the “high” sensation you may feel you are missing.  Additionally, a new workout routine can help you give up old social networks that may be stumbling blocks.  Exercising can help redefine your social life by filling time, by expending energy, and by connecting you with other people who share your new hobby.  In these ways, exercise provides you with a new coping mechanism, replacing an unhealthy one with a healthy one. 

Alternative options for coping

Many lifestyle changes can benefit your mind and your body and provide you with positive coping mechanisms.  Aside from typical workouts involving weights and gym memberships, here are some other options to consider:

  • Swimming.  Swimming is often touted as a low-impact sport that is easier on your joints than land pursuits such as jogging and walking.  According to Swimming World Magazine there are many other reasons you should swim.  Swimming can help you set goals, increase your team-building skills, and improve your social life and your self-confidence.  It’s an exercise for people of all ages, and you can enjoy it alone or in groups.
  • Meditation.  Some research suggests that spending as little as twenty-five minutes a day focused on your surroundings and concentrating on your breathing can alleviate pain, anxiety and depression.  You can also benefit by taking “purposeful pauses” throughout your day, making the most of routine moments.  By savoring the sensations of mundane tasks like brushing your teeth, you can alleviate worries and feel more relaxed.  
  • Yoga.  Yoga is receiving increasing attention for its physical and mental health benefits.  Research shows that yoga can reduce your stress, put you in a better mood, lower depression and anxiety, and increase your energy.  Harvard University even goes so far as to say that “the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent,” and that “evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health.”

Good for your body, your mind, and your recovery

There are many choices you can make that will improve your physical and mental well-being while you are recovering from addiction.  By developing a workout routine, you can reduce anxiety and depression, improve your fitness level and give yourself a healthy coping mechanism.  Similarly, you can incorporate an alternative coping method that benefits you physically and mentally such as swimming, meditation or yoga.  Whatever option you choose, you’ll find that taking care of your body and taking care of your mind will help you in your recovery.

Do you suffer from any addictions?  What do you do to cope with this issue?