So much of recovery involves feeling comfortable with our surroundings and ourselves. Dissatisfaction with inner or outer appearance serves as a major distraction that can take your focus off of recovery.
Exercise boosts satisfaction, which always ties back to self-image and, in turn, boosts recovery. Of course, everyone benefits from the physical and mental advantages of exercise, but it’s particularly beneficial for those struggling with substance use disorder and the mental health conditions that commonly co-occur with addiction:
1. It makes you feel good.
Exercise is a much more productive use of time than sitting on the couch. When you establish an exercise routine and stick to it, you’ll not only see results on the outside, but the sense of accomplishment you feel dramatically improves self-esteem. It’s as good for the body as it is for the mind.
2. It gets you outside.
Just five minutes of exercise outside benefits mental health and self-esteem. Now, imagine the benefits of going for a 30-minute run, a 2-hour hike, swimming a few laps in the pool, or moving your yoga practice outside. Being outside is excellent for our mental health. Even looking at pictures of nature reduces feelings of anxiety.
3. You look good.
We live in a body-image-obsessed world. For many people, how they look directly impacts their self-esteem. As ability and appearance improve, so do body image and self-esteem.
4. It’s a stress reliever.
Exercise is a known stress reliever, but yoga, meditation and tai chi are particularly calming. Yoga is known to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Meditation also reduces cortisol levels, as well as anxiety and fatigue levels. It stimulates the prefrontal cortex, which regulates happiness and can lead to more positive social interactions and positive self-image.
5. It gives you control.
Addiction can make you feel powerless, but exercise is something you can control. When you spend time focusing on the things you have control over, like exercise, you’ll spend less time worrying about the things that don’t matter or serve you.
6. It builds your peer network.
In recovery, you just can’t afford to be friends with people who don’t lift you up. It’s so important that the people you surround yourself with are positive influences. Exercising with other people keeps you engaged and builds important relationships, and encouraging one another to reach your goals boosts self-esteem.
A sedentary lifestyle does little to improve physical health, energy and self-image, but feeling good inside and out builds healthy self-esteem, which is essential to recovery. At Segue Recovery, fitness is an integral part of our treatment philosophy. For more information about how our addiction recovery services can help you or someone you love, contact a Segue Recovery Specialist at 1.866.905.4550.