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The Importance of Health and Fitness in Recovery


When people first enter recovery, they are usually in very bad health. They may have been abusing their body for many years with alcohol or drugs and will often be dealing with nutritional deficiencies as well. This means that even though the person has stopped the substance abuse, they may still be held back from getting the most out of their new life because of their poor health condition. It is therefore important that these individuals take the necessary steps to regain their health in recovery.

Why is it Important to Be Healthy in Recovery?

If you have managed to break away from addiction, you will already have done a great deal to improve your health. Some can fall into the trap of believing that by taking this step they have already done enough to improve their life. The problem with this reasoning is it means that you the person could end up living a less than satisfactory life in recovery. It is strongly recommended, therefore, that you do what you can to improve your health because this will help you get the most out of your new life.

There is a saying that goes ‘your health is your wealth’. This refers to the fact that a person’s health not only influences the way he or she feels physically but also the way they feel mentally. If you are in poor health, it will be very difficult for you to find any happiness in life. It will mean that you have a greater risk of developing depression and you will be at much higher risk of relapse.

If you are unable to get the most out of your recovery due to poor health and fitness, you may begin to become disillusioned with this new life. The motive for breaking away from addiction will be to improve your situation, but your fitness level can mean that you feel too drained to do anything.

What Does It Mean to Be Healthy?

The word ‘health’ refers to the experience of having a body and mind that is functioning at an optimum level. Of course, the body and mind are connected, so the health of one will impact the health of the other – in fact, science suggests they are one and the same things. When we talk about health in everyday speech, we will usually be referring to four things: physical fitness, good nutrition, mental wellbeing, and absence of illness. We will now look at each of these in turn.

Physical fitness means that your body is in good working order and is capable of performing the functions you need it to perform. When you are physically fit, you are able to work for long periods without feeling tired. It also means that you have the energy to get out there and get the most out of life. You become physically fit by doing things that promote fitness such as aerobic exercise and stretching activities such as yoga. Physical fitness also helps to keep your body in good shape so that you not only feel better but you also look better as well.

Good nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy life. It means eating a balanced diet whereby you get all the nutrients required for your body to be able to function properly. Good nutrition also means that you consume enough calories to fuel your activities each day but not so much that it causes you to become overweight. When people are in the midst of addiction it is common for them to be suffering from malnutrition – this means missing key nutrients. In recovery, people can turn to food for comfort, leading to them becoming obese and unfit. When it comes to controlling your body weight, good nutrition and physical fitness go hand in hand.

Mental wellbeing can be strongly influenced by what you eat as well as your level of physical fitness. It will also be influenced by your ability to handle stress and the other challenges of life. One of the keys to happiness in recovery is developing emotional sobriety, which is done by developing all the coping mechanisms required to deal with every challenge in life.

The absence of illness is something that is not always under the control of the individual. If you have developed serious conditions because of your addiction – such as alcoholic liver disease – there may not be much you can do to undo the damage. What you could do is live the healthiest life possible thereafter, and do everything possible to manage the symptoms. You reduce your risk of developing illness by being physically fit, eating well, and promoting your own mental wellbeing.

How to Be Healthy in Recovery

When you first break away from addiction, you will have a great deal of adjusting to do. During the first few weeks of recovery you will have a lot on your plate, so at this stage the priority should only be on treating serious health risks such as malnutrition. After you have been sober for a few months, you can then begin looking at your diet and perhaps gently starting to get physically fit. It is not usually a good idea to rush into anything as this can lead to injury and disillusionment.

Those who have been sober for a year or more need to think a bit more carefully about their health. Smokers need to seriously consider breaking away from their habit as this is not only increasing their risk of serious illness, but it will also get in the way of physical fitness. By this stage of recovery, individuals should be exercising on a regular basis (most days) and eating a healthy diet. Not taking these steps to increase general health will mean not getting the most out of recovery.

Dangers of Exercise Addiction

Starting an exercise programme in recovery is highly recommended, but there are risks associated with this if you go overboard. Some people will turn to exercise in much the same way they turned to alcohol or drugs. They become addicted to the feel good hormones produced by hard exercise and begin to engage in this activity as a means of avoiding their problems. When people in recovery do this it is a sign that they have become stuck, which means it is a form of addiction substitution.

Exercise addiction can have very serious consequences. It can lead to physical exhaustion and possibly even trigger a heart attack. It could also usually mean that the person is neglecting his or her family and other responsibilities in life. The individual may have convinced himself or herself that they are exercising excessively to promote health and wellness, but they fail to understand that health is all about balance.

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