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The Role of Physical Activity in Recovery

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Detox and recovery are filled with change, and while it can be intimidating to step foot into a new sober lifestyle, these changes are wholly beneficial to a person’s health. Physical activity is one of these profound changes. Adapting to a more active lifestyle and embracing physical activity can impact an individual’s recovery in many ways, helping improve their mental and emotional health just as much as their physical health. 

Approaching recovery with a mind open and ready to explore physical outlets can help create a healthy daily routine filled with activity and effective practices. This helps to process stresses, urges, cravings, and other hurdles on an individual’s journey to a sober future. 

The Importance of Physical Activity

Addiction can compromise a person’s health in many ways. There are direct physical ramifications of addiction, such as liver disease, gum disease, and heart complications. Yet, addiction can also lead an individual to eschew other things essential to their health, such as a healthy diet or physical outlets. Disinterest in hobbies can make it more difficult to engage in outdoor activities. Isolationist practices, such as staying in one’s room, can further compromise activity levels as one retreats further into themselves. 

Physical activity is not just a way to get an individual’s body moving again. It also serves as an important catalyst of change. It can help a person break through self-destructive habits to embrace a transformative, healthy lifestyle in the absence of drugs or alcohol. Even from the beginning of an individual’s recovery journey, embracing physical activity can highlight the change they are making for a sober future. 

Finding an Outlet That Works for You

Embracing a physical outlet can mean something different for each person, and there is not a single “best” way to embrace a more active daily routine. Each individual will have their own best practices for physical activity. Exploring the outlets most effective for each individual is important in establishing a personalized daily routine in recovery. 

For some, going on a walk, jog, or hike can be the most relaxing way to get their bodies moving, while others may instead enjoy swimming or engaging in sports like tennis or basketball. Others still may prefer a more intimate way to get their bodies moving by practicing yoga in their own homes. There is no “wrong” way to engage in a more active routine. Choosing the outlet best fit for each individual can be an incredible exercise in agency throughout the recovery journey. 

Individuals also do not have to begin with any kind of intense routine. Embracing a more active lifestyle does not mean that an individual has to feel like they are training for the Olympics. Starting small and normalizing a bit of daily activity can be the best bridge to a consistent lifestyle change as an individual navigates their journey into recovery. 

The Benefits of Getting Active

There are a number of benefits to engaging in an active lifestyle while challenging the use of drugs and alcohol. Each can be instrumental in maintaining an individual’s own mental and emotional health during times of change. 

Processing and Reducing Stress

Stress is a major part of recovery. Constant change, urges, cravings, and uncertainties can all introduce stress and anxiety. Coupled with the emotional effects of addictive substances and withdrawal symptoms, having an outlet to process these stresses is essential for one’s recovery, and physical activity is directly tied to relieving these stresses. 

Getting active in any kind of personalized physical outlet prompts the body to release dopamine and other “feel good” chemicals that can improve one’s mood and combat these difficult feelings. Stress of any kind can continue to build until released and processed. Physical activity can provide an individual’s body with a direction and goal to process stress in a safe and healthy way. 

Processing Urges

Urges and cravings are a common and incredibly dangerous part of the recovery process where an individual feels compelled to reengage with addictive substances despite their better judgment. Navigating them is crucial for a healthy and successful detox and recovery. While difficult, these urges will pass in time, even if they are intense in the moment. 

Having a physical outlet that can help an individual process urges safely by keeping their body and mind occupied mitigates the chances and opportunities to act compulsively on these destructive notions. Keeping distracted, even for a moment, can help an individual process urges and cravings safely in sobriety. 

Creating a Sleep Schedule

Sleep is an important part of the recovery process, especially during detox. Emotional stresses and feelings of depression and anxiety can keep an individual up at night, and nightmares can make it difficult to stay asleep. Yet, sleep is still a necessity throughout recovery. Physical exercise can help an individual manage their emotional and physical energies and promote a much healthier sleep schedule, releasing pent-up energies and helping to further create a healthy sober routine

Recovery from drugs and alcohol requires more than abstaining from substances. It requires an individual to build a new life filled with healthier emotional, spiritual, and physical activities. It is important for individuals to be willing to explore healthy ways to add physical activities to their recovery journey. They will find better health as well as peace of mind that comes with knowing they are transforming their lives. 

Physical activity is integral to developing a transformed, healthy lifestyle, and we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center are committed to helping you embrace a truly transformed life in sobriety. Sober transformation starts at the first step, and our detox program can help you begin your journey to sobriety in a healthy and supported way, with an array of personalized programs available for you to explore. From a community of peers and educated and caring professionals, your time with us is committed to helping you further your personal goals in sobriety and beyond, embracing a new mentality and healthy daily life. From detox and residential treatment to ongoing outpatient care and medication-assisted treatment, we are prepared to create a recovery plan that is right for you with each step you take toward your sober future. For more information on how we can help you, call us today at (714) 492-1119.

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