The Role of Exercise in Holistic Rehabilitation

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Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be difficult to overcome while having devastating effects on a person’s life, unless they use successful coping strategies, such as exercise, to manage the symptoms and regain their wellness. Medical specialists at the National Institute of Drug Abuse have found that the mind-body connection is stronger than once believed. Exercises such cardiovascular training, strength training and yoga assist in coping with the mental and physical triggers that would cause habitual drug and alcohol use while promoting health and confidence. Physical fitness produces neurological responses that can help a person endure withdrawal symptoms and continuously promotes improved physiological and psychological functioning.

Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Confronting stressful events and developing constructive lifestyle changes is easier when healthy and strong. The stressful events in every day life such as frustration, burn out, loss, life changes and avoidance among others cause physiological changes in everyone. Coming off of narcotics can cause anxiety that manifests itself into sleeplessness, mental distress, pain and can eventually lead to relapse. Replacing bad habits with good ones and making exercise part of a daily routine will reduce tension and withdrawal symptoms while increasing stamina for encountering future stress.

Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, reduces the stress hormone secreted and speeds up the function of the immune system that degenerates from substance abuse. It also produces the neuron, serotonin in the brain which creates a feeling of happiness and confidence. This is one of the same neurons that drugs and alcohol artificially induce, making it difficult to break the compulsive habit because of its pleasurable effect. A few of the many cardio activities to try are running, cycling, and aerobic classes to attain a state of relaxation and happiness without the negative consequences of drugs and alcohol. The American College of Sports and Medicine recommends at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week.

Strength training is another extremely beneficial and meaningful component of exercise that increases positive moods, reduces anxiety, builds confidence and self-efficacy. Strong bones, increased muscle mass and strength, which are components of physical fitness are not the only benefits of resistance training. Experts have found that the circadian rhythm is regulated by exercise which improves sleep cycles. According to Len Kravitz, weight training also improves mood and cognition, making it easier to concentrate for extended periods. Strength training should be included in your workout schedule two to three days a week for its many lasting benefits.

Any exercise routine would not be complete without stretching. Yoga is a form of stretching that includes mindfulness and is an excellent way to achieve an inner calm while addressing muscle tension. Yoga induces a relaxation response and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, making withdrawal symptoms more tolerable. Researches have found that it balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and produces gamma waves, helping to relieve symptoms of PTSD that are sometimes associated with drug and alcohol consumption. The focus on breath and body awareness is meditation in motion. Doing yoga for only 15 minutes a day can help to create balance by listening to your body and quieting your mind.

Exercise is a part of holistic health that brings balance into a person’s life and helps them attain optimal wellness. The effects of exercise on the mind and body address the causes of alcohol and drug use while managing withdrawal symptoms. Cardiovascular exercise, strength training and yoga are positive strategies to prevent relapse. To achieve the many benefits of fitness, it is important to select exercises are enjoyable that can be included as a part of your routine. Lifestyle changes and self-care promote wellness and are an extremely important part of recovery and well-being.