How physical fitness boosts addiction recovery

Published: May 10, 2021

This article has been researched and written by Jason

Jason Lewis is a personal trainer by day and the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He writes for Strong Well and enjoys creating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.

Many people addicted to drugs or alcohol seek treatment, but how effective that treatment is remains dubious. The success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous is pegged between 5-10 percent. Other drug facilities generally claim a 30 percent success rate, and even that’s been questioned.

Evidence-based medical therapy is the most effective form of rehab from drug use – and one rarely used for people kicking a substance abuse habit. While it’s not a medical prescription for getting sober, exercise can supplement treatment and help you on your way to recovery.

Benefits of Physical Fitness

The full list of harmful effects that drugs including cocaine (or crack), hallucinogens, marijuana, tobacco, and heroin, among others, take upon your body is staggering. These include rotting teeth, premature aging, bone marrow loss, lung and heart disease, the heightened risk of infection, and the onset of certain cancers. Fitness, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce back pain, prevent osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, and control obesity and diabetes. Effectively, it can reverse a lot of the physical damage that drugs wreak on the body.

Mental Health

Another perk of working out is the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and norepinephrine. These chemicals regulate your mood and emit feel-good sensations including joy, elation, and pleasure. Drugs also stimulate these neurotransmitters, but in unhealthy doses, so that when you come off them, you feel depleted and washed out. In other words, exercise acts as a healthy substitute to drugs, giving you a runner’s high rather than one in which you risk overdose or accident. Plus, staying fit structures your day, reinforces your self-esteem, and helps you feel at peace.

The Best Types of Exercise

If you’re wondering which exercises are right for you? Choose one that makes you feel happy. Judo, archery, sailing, lacrosse, badminton – whatever you love to do, do it. Each exercise benefits you in different ways. To avoid injury, be sure not to overdo it, but come up with a regimen and stick to it.

One way to stay disciplined and motivated is to use a smartwatch. A smartwatch can track all sorts of workouts and even measure how many steps you take and calories you burn throughout the day. These devices are effective but not cheap, so make sure you pair your smartwatch with a screen protector and durable band.

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