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Exercise’s Effect on the Brain

A commitment to exercise can help you change your body for the better. But physical exercise also has benefits for your brain and overall wellness that many people are not aware of. Whether hitting the gym or taking a walk around your neighborhood, you are doing activities that support your mental health, recovery from addiction, and overall wellness in addition to building muscle and getting fit.

Decrease Your Stress Levels

Regardless of what type of exercise you incorporate into your alcohol or substance use addiction recovery wellness plan, physical movement and working out are proven to lessen your stress levels. This happens on a chemical level, as exercise decreases the amount of stress hormones in your body and generates endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers and mood stabilizers.

A recent study indicates that, among populations often exposed to outside stressors, individuals that adopt exercise as a coping mechanism may be able to significantly lower the amount of internal stress they experience on a day to day basis. That means, although stressful situations remain, your ability to cope with them may be significantly improved. Learning to cope with stress in healthy ways is a critical step in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Sleep More Easily

Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? A lack of quality sleep is associated with high levels of stress and can make relapse more likely during recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Studies show that exercise, especially resistance exercise, is an effective means of improving your sleep quality. Resistance exercise is any activity in which you are straining your muscles against an outside force. Examples include lifting dumbells, using elastic exercise equipment, or moving against your own body weight (e.g. doing pushups).

Carry More Energy Throughout Your Day

By acting on your central nervous system, exercise can increase stamina in individuals suffering from low energy levels or fatigue. This is true in the short and long run, i.e. exercise can improve your energy levels immediately following a period of physical activity as well as over time.

Jumping into exercise during periods of physical exhaustion may sound daunting, but studies indicate that even low-intensity exercise, such as walking, can be an effective treatment for fatigue. Committing to exercise for just 20 minutes a day for 3 days a week may help you improve your stamina levels, carry more energy during the day, and, in the long run, achieve sustained periods of wellness and sobriety.