Why Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery

Medical professionals across the world have conducted various studies that determine just how important it is for an individual in addiction and mental health recovery to take part in some form of physical activity.  

From reducing stress levels to alleviating the side effects experienced as addictions and mental health disorders arise, much of the research confirms what we already know. Exercise can drastically reduce the negative repercussions that mental health disorders have and can further support those in addiction recovery.

In addition to reducing the negative repercussions that addictions and mental health disorders have on individuals, the NHS states that taking part in a form of exercise is proven to lower the risk of mental health disorders such as depression recurring by at least 31%. Combined with seeing individuals less likely to experience a relapse, the benefits that fitness has on those in addiction and mental health recovery are increasingly evident.

Irrespective of whether you are personally in recovery, or are hoping to support somebody else in their journey to a healthy, happier, and substance-free life, in this blog, we have delved into why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery.

Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery as It Enhances an Individual’s Mood

Did you know that exercise releases those all-important endorphins that help the brain have a more positive and optimistic outlook on life?

As reported by mental health charity Mind, regularly taking part in a form of aerobic exercise can enhance an individual’s mood and promote a healthy, positive mindset.

Further research conducted by various health professionals also acknowledges that aerobic exercise has the potential to act as a natural and highly effective anti-anxiety and stress treatment. 

Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery as It Helps Reduce Stress

In addition to enhancing an individual’s overall mood, much research confirms that individuals that take part in at least ten minutes of physical activity each day are 17% less likely to suffer from mental health disorders including stress, anxiety, and depression.

Not only are reduced stress levels essential for those in recovery for mental health disorders, but they are imperative for those in addiction recovery. 

Stress is one of the largest factors that cause an individual to suffer from an addiction. Stress can also cause those in recovery to relapse. With this in mind, keeping stress levels to an absolute minimum is essential.

Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery as It Offers Structure

Structure and routines are an integral part of everyday life. They prevent many from feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious.

While you may not realize it, the structure is essential for individuals in recovery. Not only does structure keep individuals occupied, but it reduces the possibility of relapsing.

In addition, individuals that commit to going for a walk at lunchtime or attending a fitness class with a friend, will slowly but surely find that they can once again control various aspects of their life that their addiction or mental health disorder would have previously controlled.

Furthermore, adding fitness to your daily structure can promote a better night’s sleep. When an addiction or mental health disorder is present, at least 35% of individuals experience insomnia. This leaves many feelings overwhelmed and experiencing burnout. Sadly, these feelings are often associated with relapses. 

Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery as It Alleviates the Short and Long-Term Effects That Addictions and Mental Health Disorders Have

As and when an addiction or mental health disorder arises, those suffering will experience a wealth of short and long-term side effects. Unfortunately, while many of the side effects subside within hours, a number of the side effects experienced will be irreversible.

Although taking part in a form of exercise cannot completely abolish the side effects or health conditions experienced entirely, exercise can relieve and reduce the physical and psychological ramifications felt.

Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery as It Contributes to a Long Term Recovery

Last but by certainly no means least, exercise contributes to long-term recovery. As individuals take part in exercise, moods are enhanced, and stress and mental health disorders are alleviated. In turn, the risk of relapse is mitigated, ensuring that an individual has the potential to make a long-term recovery.

What Forms of Exercise Are Best for Addiction & Mental Health Disorder Recovery?

As we can see from the above, fitness and addiction recovery often comes hand in hand. Not only does fitness help enhance an individual’s mood, but regularly exercising can reduce the overall impact that addictions and mental health disorders have.

Having taken the benefits that exercise affords into consideration if you now find yourself wondering what is best to participate in, look no further.

Although almost any form of exercise affords a wealth of benefits, it is believed that aerobic exercise is best for those in recovery. Aerobic exercise typically consists of walking, running, swimming, dancing, cycling, yoga, and fitness classes that are hosted by various fitness centers across the country.

As touched on above, the NHS has previously stated that even ten minutes of exercise can have a positive impact on the body and mind.

What Should I Do If Exercise Does Not Help Me?

Although exercise offers a wealth of benefits, it is essential to remember you may not feel these overnight. Addiction and mental health recovery, after all, is a long-term commitment.

You must also take into consideration that exercise alone will not relieve you of your addiction or mental health disorder. However, it will help you manage your emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

If you are in recovery for an addiction or mental health condition and have begun to experience pessimistic thoughts and cravings that you are struggling to manage, we would urge you to reach out to your doctor, a medical professional, a support group, or a residential alcohol rehab provider. This could indicate that you are experiencing a relapse. 

The Exeter Daily