Those who break free of alcohol or drug addiction tend to be in bad shape physically and mentally. The fact that they have stopped the abuse should mean significant health improvements, but more needs to be done in order to enjoy the full possibilities of sobriety. The good news is that for those who have made it into early recovery the hard part is already behind them, so getting back into shape can be fun as well as rewarding.
Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired
A common reason for choosing sobriety is that the person becomes sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. The reality is though that if you get sober but do not take care of your health, you can continue to feel as if you are always a little under the weather. Getting back into the shape does not need to involve becoming a fruitarian or training for an ultra-marathon; a few simple changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference to your physical and mental health.
Benefits of Getting Back Into Shape in Early Recovery
There are many philosophical arguments about the nature of the mind but most people now accept that the brain is a body organ. This means that if your body is out of shape, your brain is likely to be out of shape too. You can experience this as cloudy thinking, inability to focus, or lack of energy. Some of the benefits of getting back into shape in early recovery include those listed below:
- many people in early recovery suffer from insomnia, so regular exercise should mean you sleep better
- it is likely to boost your mood so you feel more positive about recovery – it can therefore reduce the likelihood of relapse
- it burns calories so reduces the likelihood of obesity – studies seem to suggest that exercise alone is not the best solution for losing weight but it can be perfect for maintaining your weight
- it can ease the symptoms of depression and may make it less likely that you will have to deal with these in the first place
- it reduces the likelihood of you developing certain diseases; therefore, it can mean that you live longer
- it boosts your energy levels – many people complain that they just don’t have the time to exercise but doing exercise can actually mean you have the energy to get much more done each day
- it’s fun – there are many different ways to exercise and there will almost certainly be something to suit your taste and personality.
Dangers of Overdoing It and Exercise Addiction
The most common mistake that many make with exercise is that they try to do too much too soon. You hear of people who have not exercised for years yet, on the first day, they try to run 10 miles. This means that the next day every muscle in their body aches, so they are likely to decide that exercise is just no for them. It is vital that you start slowly – the important thing during the first few weeks is just getting into the habit of exercising. It is also important to speak to your doctor if you have not exercised in a long time.
One of the other dangers for individuals in early recovery is that exercise can become a type of addiction substitute. The person enjoys the feel-good chemicals produced by hard exercise, so he or she wants it more and more. It can get to the stage where the person becomes obsessed with exercise to such an extent that it begins to harm them – it could lead to permanent injury, exhaustion, and burnout.