The Importance of Physical Fitness During Addiction Treatment

Written by: Lynn Finnell, LMFT, LAADC | Reviewed by: Christian Small, MD

The Importance of Physical Fitness During Addiction Treatment

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    Addiction is tough on your body, and those struggling with addiction often let their physical health slide. Developing physical fitness skills can rehabilitate your body. Physical activity can lift your mood, fix your sleep cycle, and keep you busy. 

    Part of recovery from addiction is to reclaim your physical fitness. There are several ways to begin this process while still in treatment for substance misuse. 

    Your Brain and Body After Addiction

    Substance use disorder can take a tremendous toll on your body. When actively addicted to a substance, you often don’t take care of your physical health. Often you don’t eat well, sleep well, or exercise. Most of your time is dedicated to substance use and recovering from substance use. 

    Once you enter treatment, your body will need to recover as well as your mind. It is common to feel withdrawal symptoms, which can cause fatigue, joint pain, and irritation. Moving the body during this time is crucial. Incorporating exercise can get your body back on track.

    How Physical Exercise Helps You Heal

    Everyone can benefit from physical exercise, but those recovering from addiction will find exercise has many benefits beyond stronger muscles and more endurance. It also has many mental health benefits, including improving one’s mood, alleviating stress, and improving self-confidence. 

    #1. Improve Your Mood

    One of the many benefits of physical exercise is that it can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. This is because exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals. It can also lower the cortisol levels in your body, a chemical your brain releases when you’re feeling anxious or stressed.

    #2. Stave Off Boredom

    If you’ve recently stopped using substances, you might have a lot of time on your hands. Now that you have a schedule to fill, why not fill it with physical activity? Daily exercise can be as little as 30 minutes daily, easily fitting into your schedule. Physical fitness can also be combined with a new hobby, such as joining a sport, hiking, or riding your bike.

    #3. Control Your Weight

    Daily exercise can help you regulate your weight, which can be essential, especially during treatment. Those who have an addiction often don’t have a healthy diet. They might be overweight or underweight. 

    It’s also common for those with an addiction to gain weight during treatment, either from eating an appropriate amount of food or eating more than normal because they’ve replaced food consumption with their previous addiction. Regular exercise can slow down that weight gain and help keep your body active and healthy as it heals. 

    Physical Fitness at Villa Oasis San Diego

    At Villa Oasis San Diego, our clients get the help of a physical trainer who can teach them how to effectively and safely incorporate exercise habits into their daily life. Support from an expert in the field can make adding exercise to your life a little easier. You might shy away from physical activity or feel you aren’t the type who cares about physical fitness. Still, a physical trainer can create a workout routine that fits your needs and personality.

    How to Improve Physical Fitness Skills

    If you are new to exercise, start small. This can help you get used to moving your body every day without potentially hurting yourself or training too hard. A person who works out too hard might feel too sore or even injure themselves, which can hurt their ability to form habits or potentially cause them not to want to exercise in the future because of their bad experience.

    #1. Builds Habits Through Repetition

    Try to make physical exercise a daily habit. Every day doesn’t need to be a full-body workout, but committing to a daily walk can get your body moving. It also makes it easier to create habits. Some days can increase the intensity of the workout while allowing more leisurely days to recover.

    #2. Drink Plenty of Fluids

    Staying hydrated while exercising is essential. It’s also quite common for people who struggle with addiction to be dehydrated because of how substances affect the water content in the body. While you exercise, you should drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are newer to an exercise plan. 

    #3. Listen to Your Body

    When incorporating physical fitness into your life, make sure that you recognize when your body is too tired or sore. While you want to push yourself a little to get an effective workout, it’s common for people to overdo it. Don’t push yourself past your limits, especially if it could result in an injury or lead to overexertion. Listening to how your body feels while you exercise can also help you feel more connected to it.

    Physical exercise is an important element of the addiction treatment process. Addiction harms your body, but movement can help you feel better. Start with smaller exercises and build back up from there. Over time, you’ll see yourself getting back into shape. 

    At Villa Oasis San Diego, our trainer helps you get your body on track by accommodating your needs and fitness level to ensure you get the safest and most effective exercise possible. A personal trainer will also help you build healthy exercise habits and teach you how to use the correct form so that all muscles are targeted. 

    You might not be someone who prioritizes typically physical fitness, but through your experience here, you’ll find that physical exercise and activity can be for everyone. To learn more about physical fitness at Villa Oasis San Diego, call us at (323) 739-8673.

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