Most people know the value of exercise and the physical benefits that come along with it. Working out regularly helps you manage weight, improve physique and maintain the energy to handle everyday life.
However, many people neglect exercise and suffer more consequences beyond what happens to one’s physical appearance. It’s vital for everyone to know and appreciate the value of exercise for improved mood and emotional health, especially when recovering from addiction.
People who exercise on a regular basis are generally healthier, happier and more energetic than those that do not. Exercising has scientifically proven benefits to mood and happiness. Research indicates that exercising for just 20 minutes has a positive effect on mood that can last up to 12 hours. Many studies also indicate that exercise is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, depression and addiction issues.
Positive Effects on Brain Chemistry
Exercise also encourages endorphin production in the brain and reduces negative chemical levels, particularly cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” linked to inactivity, poor diet and psychological disorders like depression. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone that usually floods the bloodstream in response to fear and danger stimuli.
A person who does not exercise regularly has a harder time flushing these negative chemicals than a person on a regular exercise routine.
What Type of Exercise Is Best?
There is no “perfect” exercise routine that will work for everyone. A healthy exercise regimen is one that is challenging but possible, or “just right.” Some people are more competitive than others and may enjoy competitive sports for exercise, such as tennis, basketball or football.
While sports such as those are fantastic methods of increasing your physical activity, very competitive people should try to focus on other, noncompetitive forms of exercise. The reason behind this is that the desire and motivation to win can actually limit the exercise’s benefits on brain chemistry and sometimes turn it into a stressful experience.
Tips for Mood-Improving Exercise
If you already exercise but wonder if there are things you can change about your routine to reap greater mental health benefits, start by moving your workout outdoors. A half-hour on a treadmill or elliptical machine may be great for your body, but taking your exercise outdoors will have a much more positive impact on your mood.
If you live in an urban area, retreating to the quieter suburbs or rural areas for walks, hikes and runs will have a much more positive impact than attempting to get outside in the middle of the city. While some people enjoy running through busy city streets, urban environments have several drawbacks. There is more traffic congestion and thus a greater chance of suffering injury from drivers. There is also a higher concentration of pollutants in the air, which can have a negative effect on your respiratory and cardiovascular health.
Additionally, the noise and bustle of the city can be stressful for some people. Research indicates that exercise in quieter, more natural environments like state parks and rural areas helps you feel more relaxed and revitalized than exercise in densely populated areas. Keep that in mind as you exercise just to maintain your overall health or as a relapse prevention technique to keep addiction at bay.
Small Changes You Can Make at Home
If outdoor activity isn’t practical for you, you can still make the most out of working out at home. Research shows that music has a profoundly positive effect during exercise, so create a playlist of your favorite feel-good, energizing tunes to listen to during your workout routine.
If you have a treadmill but dread spending 30 minutes on it three to five times a week, watch one of your favorite shows while you run or use the elliptical. Watching TV or movies can help distract you from the exercise and make the workout seem faster.
Sex is another great way to exercise at home. Exercise researchers report that the average person burns three to four calories during every minute of sexual activity, which counts as moderate exercise.
You and your significant other can enjoy the positive benefits of regular exercise through intimacy. Additionally, maintaining a healthy exercise regimen boosts sexual desire and stamina, which can be incredibly valuable in intimate relationships.
Exercise and Addiction Recovery:
Join the Discussion with Your Advice
Do you have an exercise routine that works really well for you? Do you do any particular exercises for specific issues like depression or anxiety? Are you looking for tips to improve your exercise regimen in realistic ways?
The Fight Addiction Now Facebook group is a grassroots community of individuals who share their thoughts and experiences about addiction, including coping mechanisms and tips for leading healthier lives. Many people who have struggled with addiction and substance abuse in their lives have discovered the value of exercise and come together here or on our Facebook page to share their experiences.
Even if you have never felt the negative effects of addiction in your own life, you can still participate in our discussions and gain valuable insight from other members in the group. If you are interested in talking about the benefits of exercise with others in a constructive and supportive environment, feel free to get the discussion started in our new online forum.
For help in finding a professional addiction treatment program that incorporates exercise into its rehab process, whether you’re currently struggling with substance abuse or it’s your loved one, let Fight Addiction Now be your guide.