Once you’ve stopped using drugs or alcohol, it’s time to face a new challenge: maintaining your sobriety. This isn’t an easy task, but there are steps you can take to help keep your sobriety intact.
Working out, for instance, is a highly effective way for recovering addicts to remain on track. It’s a healthy, productive use of your time and will leave you feeling strong, positive, and confident.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of working out to maintain sobriety, as well as a few different types of exercise you may want to try.
Let’s start by taking a look at the benefits of exercise!
One reason drugs and alcohol are so addictive is that these substances activate endorphins, neurotransmitters that create a sensation of happiness and pleasure. People begin to crave and eventually rely on these feelings.
Fortunately, there are also healthy, natural ways to release endorphins. One of them is exercise. Exercise increases production of endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine, all “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
Serotonin and norepinephrine actually reduce depression and stress, two major relapse triggers.
Positive Use of Time
Recovering addicts are often advised to “keep busy” in order to avoid cravings or thoughts of drugs and alcohol.
Exercise is a positive activity that can occupy some of your time. You may also find sober “exercise buddies” who you can spend time with both inside and outside the gym.
In fact, some gyms, like CrossFit Pottstown, offer fitness recovery programs specifically designed for “individuals that have made the decision to stop using and become sober.” If you can find a similar program, it’s a great way to spend your time doing a positive activity with positive people.
The more you work out, the more you’ll build strength and self-esteem. As you see yourself lose weight, gain muscle, run more miles, or lift heavier weights, your confidence will soar.
Ultimately, you’ll begin to believe in yourself and your ability to succeed in other aspects of your life, such as maintaining your sobriety.
Working out also improves both your physical and mental health. When individuals stop using substances, they often gain weight, feel depressed, and have trouble sleeping. Exercising can cancel out all of these effects.
If you struggle with feelings of anger or frustration, exercise is also a healthy way to vent these emotions, all while reducing your stress level.
In addition, research shows that working out can increase the number of new nerve connections in the brain, which can help your brain heal from the impact of substance abuse.
Now that you know the benefits of working out, what are some different ways to exercise?
If you want to really stick to your workout plan, it’s important to find a fitness activity that you enjoy.
For outdoor enthusiasts, options include:
- Playing sports
- Practicing yoga outdoors
Spending time outdoors will up your levels of Vitamin D, which is said to reduce your risk of depression, heart attacks, cancer, and more. For many, the outdoors has a calming effect that alleviates anxiety. This means that outdoor exercise can multiply the benefits of working out.
The gym is another option. While some gym memberships are pricey, you should be able to find more affordable rates.
One benefit of exercising at the gym is that you can vary your workout routine. You can work on cardio, strength, or both. Most gyms are equipped with elliptical machines, stationary bikes, free weights, leg press machines, medicine balls, stair climbers, rowing machines, etc.
The majority of gyms also offer fitness classes. If you tend to find working out boring, you may enjoy an upbeat class like Zumba, which allows you to burn calories while dancing. Other popular classes typically include yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, cycling, and various boot camps.
You may wish to try several classes and see what you enjoy. Activities like yoga and Pilates can be calming and relaxing, while high-energy classes like Zumba may give your post-workout euphoria an additional boost. Working out at the gym also gives you the added benefit of making new friends.
On the other hand, some people—especially beginners—feel uncomfortable exercising in a public setting like the gym.
You can purchase weights or gym equipment for your home, if you prefer. Or you can find a huge variety of workout DVDs or even Youtube videos, many geared specifically to beginners. Later, you may want to try exercising outdoors or at a gym. But home workouts are a great way to get used to exercising and start building up your strength and confidence.
Exercise offers many benefits in general, but it can be especially beneficial for anyone who is working to maintain their sobriety.
It’s a positive way to occupy your time and form friendships, and it boosts your endorphins, confidence, and physical and mental health.
For best results, find a workout you enjoy, whether that’s outdoors, at a gym, or from the comfort of your own home.
However you choose to work out, know that you’re taking a healthy step toward maintaining your sobriety.