By: Lauren Stobbie, M.S., CSCS, USAW
Health and Fitness Program Supervisor
Most people are aware of the countless benefits exercise can provide to their health, mental wellness, and overall life, but most are not aware of the impact of exercise on those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. An exercise program in early recovery has been proven to reduce cravings and increase the chance of sobriety. Exercise sessions can be a powerful tool in facing the difficult emotions that come in early recovery. Regular physical activity can provide a healthy outlet for stress, depression, and other emotions they may face during early sobriety. One example of that is repetitively slamming a medicine ball into the ground as hard as possible. This simple exercise has caused patients to break down mid-workout, but has shown to be an effective way for the trainers to process the emotions with the patient and show how exercise is a positive and beneficial way to express themselves.
Exercise also allows our clients to release endorphins, heal and strengthen their bodies, and improve their body image and self-esteem. Every week clients notice changes in their endurance, strength, and physical appearance, and this motivates them to continue. Establishing a regular exercise routine allows clients to set goals and experience the sense of accomplishment when they reach them. In early sobriety, exercise provides a new activity that is healthy and can be a positive way to fill the time previously spent using substances. It is our hope that once they are out of treatment they will be equipped to continue to turn to exercise as a healthy outlet for their emotions and as a healthy alternative to drugs and alcohol. Many times exercise becomes our patients’ favorite and most positive part of their new life in recovery.
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