Recovery is a journey of complete healing, a pursuit that incorporates optimizing your mental and physical health; and this goes way beyond just abstaining from using drugs and alcohol. Exercise in recovery not only allows you to build strength, develop your confidence and help you feel better each day; it can also help you stave off long-term withdrawal symptoms, increase your mobility and give you a consistent goal on which you can focus.
Benefits of Exercise in Recovery
There are many immediate and long-term benefits of proper nutrition and exercise in addiction recovery. They can play a key role in alleviating associated medical and mental health issues, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, weight gain and others.
Unfortunately, when you’re just starting recovery, you may still be experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms and distracted by the work you have to do immediately following treatment. It can be hard, under these circumstances, to start working out and stay with it. Here are some tips that can help you get fit in recovery and take steps toward managing your everyday and long-term physical health.
Figure Out What Exercises You’d Like to Do
Exercise in recovery doesn’t have to be complicated, tedious or unpleasant. Do you like to walk? That’s movement! Do you like to play basketball? That’s movement! Do you like to box? That’s…you guessed it…movement! The important thing is to make it fun and interesting to you while maximizing form and impact during each workout. If you like to walk, speed walk; if you like to play basketball, play until you heart rate is up and you’ve broken a good sweat; if you like to box, try a bag workout.
Do What You Can…
Remember that everyone’s physical threshold is different. What feels like five sit-ups or push-ups to some, may feel like 50 to others. What feels like a mile to one may feel like 100 to another. It’s a good idea to start slow, so you don’t hurt yourself or get discouraged. Figure out what your personal best is and go for it within whatever workout you decide to do.
…Then Do A Little More
It’s important to realize, however, that exercise is supposed to be a little harder each time. Otherwise, you can’t be sure you’re getting the most out of it. Try every few workouts to exceed your personal best, no matter what it may be.
Form Follows Function
Getting fit in recovery often means using muscles you haven’t used in a while. This means that it may be hard to get the right form with each workout. Your body will be sensitive to certain movements and naturally resistant to stretching or bending in certain ways. Focus on getting the right form so you can be sure you’re getting the most out of whatever workout you’re doing. If you need some help, watch some videos online or, better yet, join a gym and have a staff member help you. For those who are brand-new to working out, but are focused on getting fit in recovery, here are three basic exercises in recovery you can start with:
Modified push-ups are low-impact ways to increase strength and mobility that you may have lost during active drug or alcohol use:
- Begin on all fours with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Move your knees back enough to ensure your weight is leaning on your hands and flatten your back.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in and bend the elbows and lower body toward the floor until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, keeping your back straight the whole time.
- Push back up and repeat.
Sit-ups can help increase your core strength and improve your digestion while toning your stomach muscles:
- Lay down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head so your elbows are pointing toward the ceiling.
- Lift your upper body up until your elbows touch your knees.
- Bring your body back down and repeat.
Remember to keep your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t get all the way up, just keep trying. The important thing is to feel tightness in your stomach muscles with each rep.
Beginner Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are a great cardio workout that requires no equipment and can help you burn a lot of calories in a relatively short amount of time:
- Stand up straight with your arms at your sides.
- Jump up, kicking your legs at either side and raising your arms above your heard.
- Jump up again, bringing your arms and legs back in until you’re back in the upright position.
Increase your speed and decrease your rest time between jumps as time goes to make sure your heart rate is elevated.
How Long and How Often Should I Exercise in Recovery?
It’s important to make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. You can integrate it into your daily routine if you can’t stop and work out for half an hour. Go for a walk on your lunch break or move around a more while you’re cleaning your house. Just make sure you move. It’s also important to get your doctor’s clearance before you start.
Get Out What You Put In
Alongside exercise in recovery, nutrition can also help you get and stay fit in recovery. Make sure to avoid sugar. Not only can it increase your risk of diabetes and other serious health issues; it can also trigger an addictive chain reaction in the brain that mirrors that of heroin. Eat plenty of veggies, lean proteins and whole grains, unless directed to do otherwise by your physician.
Staying fit and keeping your body healthy is one of recovery’s many rewards. If you or your loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, getting healthy starts with seeking treatment. Recovery Unplugged is ready to help you begin your recovery and healing process. Contact us today to start your treatment now.