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The Impact of Exercise during Alcohol Addiction Recovery: Tips and Strategies

By Michael Geraghty December 07, 2023

Recovering from alcohol dependency suddenly presents you with alot of free time on your hands. This extra time can be used to build a new network of friendships and interests that support your recovery and the changes in your lifestyle.

Activities like learning a new skill, taking a course, travelling, and volunteering all help you find new hobbies, meet new people and find different interests that help to build a structure in your life.

One of the best activities you can introduce into your new life of sobriety is exercise. Sticking to a regular workout plan will not only make you look and feel better, it will also help you to stay focused on your recovery goals.

 

 

In this blog we will at the role of exercise in addiction recovery and how best to implement and maintain exercise during the recovery process. 

How exercising benefits your recovery

Exercise and having a fitness-focused mindset are important for everyone and provide numerous health benefits. It results in people making healthier decisions, looking after their body and self-care.

For people who are recovering from addiction, there are some added benefits of exercising. Some substances and exercises tend to affect the brain in the same way, and release feel-good chemicals, therefore, choosing to exercise will be a beneficial way of recovery as it can act as a healthier substitute to release serotonin into the body.

Exercising is beneficial for both the mind and body. In addition to getting fit, you’ll be able to sleep better and it’ll help reduce withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and stress - both of which can lead to depression. Exercising is also a good stress reliever, you’ll be able to channel any negative emotions into a constructive physical output.

When you exercise you’ll start to see positive changes in your body, which helps with self-esteem and any body image issues you may have previously had.

The routine of exercising will keep your mind occupied as it provides a goal for you to achieve and keep your mind focused on.

 

 

Exercising can also help improve your current relationships because of your new mindset, and you can start new ones with people who have a similar positive outlook of self-betterment.

When to start exercising

When you begin to exercise, you need to make sure that alcohol is out of your system as it can cause dehydration. You can experience many complications if you exercise before and after drinking.

Make sure to speak to your therapist or medical practitioner, to see if your body is ready to undergo training and exercise. Once you get the green light from them, you are good to go.

How to get into training

The general goal for exercising is spending about 150 minutes a week on moderate exercise, but if you’re just starting out, you can start at a lower time frame and work yourself up to that goal. You can take up cardio exercises like jogging, running, or using a spin bike.

There is a huge choice of modern exercise machines such as Smart rowers, bikes and treadmills which allow you join an online community of people at different levels of fitness. This is a great way to keep yourself motivated and get support and encouragement for others who are trying out different exercises.

You can also consider joining a group exercise class such as Bootcamp, HIIT or Pilates which can boost your confidence as you connect with people looking for similar goals.

Strength training is one of the most popular and effective ways of working out. Using weights helps you to build strength and stamina which will increase your overall physical ability. Yoga classes are also a good option that combines mindful meditation and exercise which helps with self-reflection and reduces stress and anxiety.

 

 

When you start your exercise journey, make smaller goals for yourself, and as you reach each milestone you can increase your fitness level and make bigger goals.

Opting for a home workout

More and more of us are working out from home, so if going to the gym or a class is not what your looking for, at-home training can be just as effective.

To do so you need to be properly prepared with the right tools. Firstly, choose a room with enough space to comfortably and safely move around in. Make sure you have suitable protective flooring or mats to support your body and prevent damage from weights or equipment.

 

 

Opt for rubber flooring which is non-slip and absorbs impact from workout moves, weights and exercise machines.

When selecting equipment, choose a selection of light to moderate weights such as adjustable dumbbells and slam balls as well as some accessories like resistance bands and jump ropes to begin with. These are inexpensive but effective tools which do not require alot of space and storage. It will allow you to test out what exercises you enjoy doing and what other equipment you might want to invest in such as a smart bike, a treadmill or a weights rack for carrying out barbell training.

 

Having your own personal workout space helps you to be consistent with your exercise goals as well as your recovery process. A dedicated area for you to spend time exercising whether it is strength training or yoga is a great way of making positive and longterm changes to your life.

Maintaining your progress

Once you establish a proper routine, it can take effort and time to maintaining your fitness goals. The key is to switch up your routine, try different workout styles and keep things fresh. You can supplement your workouts with other fitness activities such as swimming, sports and walking that are simple to build into your routine, enjoyable and the chance to meet people with shared interests.

 

 

Another thing to remember about progress is consistency. Aim to keep working out on a regular basis, even when motivation is low and keep an eye on your nutrition and water intake. Try to eat fresh foods, leaner options and keep your diet varied and interesting. Get inspired by the many recipes and meal options available online that can be made in minutes. Remember to allow yourself treats and the foods you enjoy but be balanced about them.

If you don't manage to meet your exercise goals, don't let it discourage you. This is common and the best way to overcome demotivation is by taking very small steps. Start from scratch and set very achieveable goals that allow you to move forward.

If you’re struggling with motivation in your recovery process or are in any way concerned about relapse, seek assistance from an addiction treatment centre in London, or from your local support system.

Conclusion

Recovering from an addiction is not an easy experience, to beat it you need to actively make changes both mentally and physically.

Exercise is one of the most valuable and therapeutic ways of enhancing your recovery process. Not only does working out have huge physical benefits in terms of health and healing, it helps with the common struggles a recovering addict faces each day.

 

 

Regular exercise minimises stress, elevates your mood and contributes to a much more positive mindset where you can challenge destructive thinking, work against triggers and addictive behaviour and become better with making positive decisions.

Whether you choose to join an exercise class, take up running or build a garage gym for regular workouts, exercise can be an anchor to keep you invested in your recovery from addiction in the longterm.


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