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Addiction and Exercise

Addiction and Exercise

Addiction and exercise coupled together, are there any benefits? For anyone, exercise is a very beneficial and healthy activity for the body and for the mind.  The benefits of exercise are almost unlimited, and the activity in general is advised by doctors, therapists, counselors, nutritionists, pediatricians, and life coaches everywhere.  It is truly a physically and mentally healthy thing to do.

It’s no secret to any of us that exercise benefits the body and the mind in many different ways. Vigorous exercise engaged upon on a regular basis improves blood circulation, cleanses the respiratory system, strengthens the heart, helps maintain weight, relieves stress, sharpens the mind, enlightens the spirit, works the internal organs, strengthens the muscles, and aids in sweating toxins and unwanted chemicals out of the body. Every doctor recommends exercise.  In fact, it is unhealthy not to exercise.

Everyone needs to exercise in some way, and there are no exceptions for anyone except for those who suffer with the most severe of medical conditions.  Even then, exercise can be used as a form of treatment and maintenance to help a person battle a physical condition.  Exercise can be used to free people from the clutches of obesity, and exercise can even be used to recover and heal a person back up to par after a grievous injury.

Addiction and Exercise as it is Used in Rehabilitation

With all of the many benefits of exercise in mind, researchers are now exploring how exercise can specifically help those individuals who are enrolled in substance abuse rehabilitation programs.  It must be discovered just how beneficial treating addiction and exercise together can be for such individuals, as exercise has been so helpful for others, why not for recovering addicts?

In recent years, there were two, major studies performed on addiction and exercise.  There were many others, but these two stand out as being the predominant authorities on the subject.

Both of these studies focused on the benefits of treating addiction and exercise coupled together in recovery.  One of them, written and published in the fall of 2010, reported on the benefits of exercise for those with drug abuse problems after extensive research with rats.  In this case study, those rats who exercised on a wheel had less craving for offered cocaine and suffered less damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex than those who did not exercise on the wheel.  Obviously, humans are not rats, but the behavioral mechanisms here are applicable.

The other study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, reported that drug abuse clients who incorporated exercise into their rehab programs on a daily basis reported a much improved quality of life and a reduced intake of the drugs that they had been using and abusing.  In fact, many of these individuals went totally relapse free for the rest of their lives because of exercise. Participants who exercised claimed that they could breathe easier, had much more energy, and overall felt better about their physical appearance and less inclined to relapse than those who did not exercise.

What Exercising Does for a Recovering Addict

Exercise has almost limitless benefits for those in recovery.  It stands out as being a highly successful and infinitely applicable method of addressing addiction and helping a person tackle his or her demons from a very physical, committed perspective.  In fact, exercise (next to detox of course) may be the best physically-related thing that an individual can do for his or her body to truly beat addiction once and for all and for good.

Just some of the physical benefits of exercise are:

  • Weight loss and management
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Boosts energy
  • More restful sleep
  • Improved circulation

Only a few of the many psychological benefits of exercise are:

  • Improved self-concept
  • Improved mood
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Provides a healthy hobby to occupy time
  • Sharpens mental skills

Necessitating Exercise in Modern Day Rehab Centers

Most drug and alcohol addiction a rehabilitation treatment centers make exercise a mandatory part of their programs.  Drug and alcohol addicts are notorious for taking terrible care of their bodies, and making exercise a must and a needed part of treatment is truly the first step to healing their bodies up and getting them to a place where they can be happy with themselves physically and be able to face life without the threat of relapse.

As the best is always saved for last, there is yet one other aspect of exercise that is truly beneficial and wonderfully powerful for the average recovering addict.  Exercise gives a recovering addict something to do.  One of the main reasons why recovering addicts do relapse is because they have nothing to do.  They get bored, and they turn back to drugs and alcohol.  With exercise, this just doesn’t happen.  With a firm exercise regimen, recovering addicts suddenly have goals and structure in their lives.  They are focused and dedicated on getting to a certain goal with their fitness, and they aren’t going to let anything get in the way of those goals.  Many recovering addicts swear by exercise as being the number one thing that helped keep them strictly sober when times got rough.  Truly, this is still an untapped resource with limitless applications and benefits for recovering addicts everywhere.

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