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The Benefits and Dangers of Exercise in Recovery

Exercise can be a real help to people in recovery. There are many benefits to this type of activity, but there are also some potential dangers. In order to reap the rewards and avoid the dangers, it will be necessary for people in recovery to approach exercise in the right way.

The Benefits of Exercise in Recovery

There are many benefits to exercise in recovery including:

  • It leads to improved health. The person who exercises will observe noticeable improvements in their physical health.
  • It can lead to improved mental clarity and concentration levels.
  • It leads to increased energy levels. One of the worst things about lack of exercise is that it can mean that people feel lethargic and unmotivated to do much. This is a very dangerous way to feel in recovery but exercise can help people escape these feelings.
  • It helps people sleep better at night because they will have worked off a good deal of pent up energy while exercising. Insomnia can be a real problem for people in early recovery but exercise can help them escape this.
  • It can help to alleviate the symptoms of mild depression.
  • It is something positive for people to do in early recovery. This is important because boredom is a common relapse trigger.
  • The feel good hormones that are released during exercise mean that people feel good. It is a natural type of boost that makes life feel more satisfying.
  • Regular exercise can boost self-esteem. The individual feels more in control, and it makes them feels as if their life is moving in a more positive direction.
  • It is a nice way to socialise and make new friends. One of the problems people have when they first give up alcohol or drugs is that they will need to walk away from their drinking and drug using friends. By getting involved in exercise, it usually means that people will have the opportunity to meet new people. Getting physically fit can be a very positive goal to share with other people.
  • It gives the individual a sense of mastery over his or her own bad.

The Danger of Exercise Addiction

Exercise addiction is where people become so obsessed with this activity that it begins to negatively impact their life. It is very similar to addiction to alcohol or drugs, and it can put the individual on a downward spiral that might ultimately lead to their destruction. People in recovery are highly susceptible to falling into this behaviour, so they need to be very careful in order to avoid addiction swapping from alcohol and drugs to exercise. The dangers of this type of addiction for people in recovery would include:

  • Too much exercise can actually have a very negative impact on physical and mental health. The individual can soon become exhausted, and they can also do permanent damage to their body. If the person continues to exercise excessively for a long time, it might even lead to their death through physical exhaustion.
  • The usual reason for why people in recovery will fall into exercise addiction is that they are trying to avoid life. This means that they are engaging in a similar behaviour as when they were abusing alcohol or drugs. The individual is no longer dealing with life, and this means that they can make no further progress in recovery. They are stuck and they will remain stuck until they are once again willing to deal with life again.
  • This type of behaviour can easily lead the individual back to alcohol or drug abuse. Once the individual begins to see their life fall apart because of their exercise addiction, they can then use this as an excuse to relapse.
  • When people are too much engaged in exercise it stops being fun and starts being a negative force in their life. The whole point of recovery is to get away from this type of negative coping mechanisms.
  • When people are obsessed with something like exercise, it will mean that they will be neglecting other areas of their life. Family and friends may continue to suffer due to this new addiction.
  • The fact that the person becomes addicted to the feel good hormones related to exercise means that they have to keep on exerting themselves more in order to get the same effect.

How to Exercise Safely for Happiness in Recovery

The amazing benefits of exercise make this type of activity well worthwhile engaging in, but it is vital that people avoid becoming addicted to physical exertion. Here are a few things to consider so people in recovery can avoid this negative outcome:

  • The secret to success in recovery is balance. This means that people need to have a good mix of activities in their life, so that they do not become too obsessed with any one activity. As well as doing exercise, the individual should also engage in activities that are less strenuous.
  • The idea that gets people into trouble is that if a little of something is good then more of it will be better. This is a dangerous way of looking at things. It is vital that people in early recovery practice moderation when it comes to things like exercise.
  • There is no reason for why people in early recovery need to become super fit in a matter of weeks. This is something that they can build up slowly over time. The best way to approach this type of activity is slowly but consistently. People who have been trapped in addiction for many years are likely to be in poor physical shape, so it can be dangers for them to do too much exercise right away. It might also be a good idea for them to speak to a doctor first of all.
  • The individual needs to be always on the lookout for any evidence that they are using exercise as a means to avoid life.

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