The short answer is YES. Anecdotally most people report that exercise simply helps them in life. It helps with stress, time management, anger, happiness and overall health. While many people don’t choose to exercise, those who do often report that they sleep and function better.
And there is that oft rumored thing about trading one addiction for another; not so fast. And does this even work? What we do know is what happens to a person physically, emotionally and psychologically generally raises feelings of confidence.
And sometimes confidence is what each of us need most.
Recently The Palm Beach Post reported on an individual who became refocused on running after he received a DUI and ended up in recovery. What was once his passion and then lapsed, ultimately refocused his brain and energy.
Why do so many addicts gravitate toward exercise while in recovery? According to Mark Burns, Director of Outreach Operations for Better Addiction Care, “Exercise allows the body to feel good naturally without the presence of drugs, chemicals or stimulants. Fitness is also a great way to set goals and feel good about working toward them.”
Research shows that drug and alcohol abuse disrupts dopamine levels in the body. Many rehab recovery techniques specifically work to restore the brain’s balance of mood-elevating chemicals, such as dopamine. It’s proven that physical activity can accomplish this naturally.
The Albany Times Union reported (May, 2017) about some men in recovery who have effectively used long bike rides as the return to health and inspirationally.
A bicycle has helped keep Chris Collins sober.
For the last three or four years, he and two friends in recovery have chosen miles-long rides over alcohol or drugs, pumping pedals to get pumped by the fresh air and the natural endorphins the brain releases during exercise.
“I found that biking was a great stress relief,” Collins said. “It builds your confidence back up, it gives you a little self-worth when you’re out there, and you get that sense of accomplishment.”
So maybe you want to feel better, stay sober, stay healthy, but you loathe exercise. Start with a few smallish steps:
- Put on the headset and take a walk through your neighborhood
- The next day choose a different neighborhood, explore.
- Drag a friend with you and talk to each other.
- Do this for a few weeks and then maybe pick up the pace, further and longer.
- And before you realize, this becomes a habit. And if it is raining, wear a raincoat.
This does not need to be complicated, only a commitment. A commitment to yourself.