Doctors and personal trainers have long praised running as an excellent way to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and boost metabolism. But putting on the sneakers and putting in the miles can have life-changing benefits for people suffering from drug addiction. Below are a few ways in which running, and exercise in general, can aid in recovery.
Improved Overall Health
Drug abuse is often part of a greater health issue. Addicts often suffer from a dual diagnosis, in which a substance addiction occurs alongside another mental health disorder such as depression. The mental disorder often encourages drug use, and vice-versa.
Running helps break this dangerous cycle by improving focus, self-image, motivation, and other positive factors. Regular aerobic exercise also helps repair damage done by drugs and alcohol. For example, regular runners can reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke increased by substance abuse.
Running has also been shown to help manage eating disorders, diabetes, and a variety of other ailments that may be linked to drug use.
The “Runner’s High”
Drug addicts partake to feel good physically and mentally. Likewise, distance runners often experience a natural runner’s high. This results when sustained physical exertion triggers the brain to release endorphins – feel-good chemicals that relax the body, relieve stress and pain, and improve mood. Runner’s high can help control drug cravings and help foster healthy exercise habits.
Many drug users are highly sensitive to stress and anxiety. Regular aerobic exercise such as running can help mitigate the body’s panic reactions and keep anxiety at bay. Running results in heavy breathing, sweating, and increased heart rate, all reactions shared with anxiety.
Since running also produces a feeling of reward, it can help drug users relax instead of panic when faced with difficult situations.
Motivation and Energy
Drug dependence sidetracks the mind from meaningful endeavors and can drain motivation. Long-term substance abuse weakens the body and mind, making it harder to recover.
Running builds strength and stamina, helping you feel energized throughout the day. Fresh air and vitamin D from sunlight also have energizing and mood-boosting benefits.
Opportunities to Meet New People
Substance abuse isolates people from friends, family, and the outside world. Running, be it outdoors on in a gym, presents opportunities to interact with others on a journey of health and wellness. Positive influences play a vital role in the recovery process, and making new friends can be just the edge you need to stay on the path to health.
Improved sleep quality
Drugs and alcohol can damage parts of the brain that regulate sleep. A good, hard run during the day sets the tone for restful sleep at night. Quality sleep promotes better judgment and decision-making, both critical factors in the recovery process. A restful night’s sleep also gives you the energy needed to stay drug-free.
Blu By The Sea integrates regular exercise into comprehensive drug abuse treatment programs tailored to your needs. Our holistic programs include yoga, a Gold’s Gym membership, and relaxing walks on the beach.
These exercises improve self-control, foster a positive self-image, and helps rewire the brain to focus on the natural high achieved through movement. Contact us for more information on how we can help you achieve a healthy, drug-free life.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Illness, NAMI.org http://www2.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Inform_Yourself/About_Mental_Illness/By_Illness/Dual_Diagnosis_Substance_Abuse_and_Mental_Illness.htm
- Mayo Clinic, Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity, MayoClinic.org, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=1