Exercising for Your Mental Health

Overcoming addiction involves much more than just stopping use of drugs or alcohol. It involves physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. These are all components of a more effective recovery plan. Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, so in order to treat one, you must treat the other.

Taking steps to maintain more positive mental health can enhance recovery efforts and reduce risk of relapse. One inexpensive (or free) way to do this is to engage in regular physical exercise. You don’t need to buy fancy equipment and can get the whole family involved to promote a healthier lifestyle. Exercise enhances mental health in a variety of ways:

It boosts mood. Exercise stimulates the production and release of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These are natural mood boosters and can help combat depression.

It increases self-esteem. When you exercise it can give you more energy and help you to feel better about yourself. This in turn can make you feel better physically and mentally.

It reduces stress. Going for a run, swimming, gardening, playing basketball, or doing yoga can help to ease tension and alleviate stress. It can also help to break a negative cycle of thoughts by putting your attention on something different.

It decreases cognitive decline. Staying physically active can help to enhance mental clarity, support improved memory and cognitive function, and boost your ability to learn new things.

It can reduce anxiety. Exercise can help to curb the symptoms of anxiety and improve your ability to calm down. Some research suggests it might also help reduce anxiety sensitivity.

Choose activities that you find enjoyable and that get your heart pumping and muscles moving. Regular exercise can help you to boost your mental health, curb cravings and stay on track with your recovery. JC’s Recovery Center encourages clients to incorporate physical activity into their recovery plans as a complement to other therapies.

Share your story about how exercise has benefitted your mental health and commitment to recovery!
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