Statistically speaking, research has shown that those who are prone to exercise more are significantly less likely to engage in drug and alcohol abuse than those who are inactive. But can exercise truly help to curb drug and alcohol addictions? There is evidence to suggest that exercise may, in fact, stimulate reward centers within the brain, thus helping to ease cravings for drugs as well as other substances.
The mind is, undoubtedly, a powerful thing-especially as it pertains to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Similarly, when we exercise, we release endorphins, which can elevate our moods, making us feel more confident in our abilities to accomplish things. So, think of what this could mean for drug and alcohol rehab!
According to Mark Smith, professor of neuroscience at Davidson University, exercise actually mimics many of the same effects that drugs have on the brain because it stimulates certain neurochemicals that sense pleasure [source].
When you exercise, you begin to develop healthy habits that ultimately benefit you. For instance, regular exercise often leads to and/or is associated with healthier eating habits, healthier sleeping habits and less of a desire to consume or do things to your body that would be harmful (i.e. drinking alcohol to excess or using drugs, eating fast food, etc.).
Exercise helps to keep you FOCUSED on something healthy and positive while you are going through the drug and alcohol rehab process. In fact, the relationship between exercise and drug and alcohol rehab is so important that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), set aside $4 million for scientific research aimed at exploring the role of physical activity in substance abuse and relapse prevention [source]. In a separate study, looking at the effects of exercise on drug abuse, NIDA hypothesized that exercise may provide beneficial effects by addressing certain psychosocial and physiological needs that drugs do not such as reducing stress and preventing weight gain following withdrawal [source].
Meanwhile, in another study, it was explained that there seems to be a direct link between regular exercise and happiness. This study supports the notion that physically active people not only recover from depression more quickly, but their physical activity is strongly linked with having better mental health as they age as well as being happier [source].
Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that there is a strong correlation between exercise and healthy lifestyle changes. The National Institute of Health (NIH) published an article by Richard Brown, Ph.D., et. al, that discussed the rationale and benefits of exercise on alcohol dependent patients in recovery. During the study, they describe a 12-week moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program and its effect on alcohol dependent patients, citing “Exercise may represent a potentially useful and relatively unexplored alternative behavior for alcoholics working toward long-term recovery.”
Exercising towards a healthier, sober life
At BRC Recovery, we encourage our residents to reach their individual physical fitness goals by offering a variety of exercise and fitness options. From supervised workouts at our on-site gym with a certified personal trainer to Yoga and meditation, our fitness program is tailored to help each resident improve his/her physical fitness while also fostering muscle strength, alertness and a healthier outlook on life.
Our fitness objective that we impart to our residents is the attainment and maintenance of physical fitness, coupled with nutritious diet and reasonable rest patterns. It is our time-proven belief that successful addiction recovery requires dedication to a systematic, long-term proactive approach to physical fitness and overall health.