It’s no secret that physical activity is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, a fact that is especially true for a person who is recovering from an addiction. Research shows that combined with other forms of therapy, aerobic exercise is proven to play a valuable and beneficial role in the addiction recovery process. Among its physical health benefits, staying active reduces stress, fills the void left by alcohol or drug dependence, and boosts self-confidence.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a fitness regimen. It’s important to ease into a workout routine with exercises that aren’t too hard on the body. Then, as you build strength and endurance, you can begin to push yourself. The good news is that options abound. Check out these four exercises that are both gentle and effective.
Stretch It Out
Every good workout starts and ends with stretching, but many people don’t realize that stretching is a great exercise all on its own. In addition to improving your flexibility and range of motion, stretching boasts a lot of lesser-known benefits as well. A simple stretch can increase blood flow to improve circulation, which in turn detoxes and nourishes your muscles. A regular routine can help improve your posture and coordination over time.
Of course, the rewards aren’t all physical. A relaxed body can help relax the mind and reduce stress. That’s why yoga is such an excellent workout. The physical exercise of stretching combined with the mental practice of mindfulness leads to a healthier body and mind.
- Stretching: Myths, Facts, and Beginner’s Stretches
- 6 Full-Body Stretching Exercises
- Yoga for Addiction Recovery
Aquatic activities are a great way to get fit, especially for beginners. Exercises like swimming and water aerobics are low-impact. The lack of stress on your bones, joints, and connective tissue allows you to work out vigorously with less risk of injury.
This type of workout also tones and conditions your whole body, improves circulation, and lowers blood pressure, improving your overall health and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. And, because aquatic routines burn more calories than other types of exercise, walking in or even just treading water can be an effective workout.
- Burn Calories in the Pool (No Laps Required!)
- Insider’s Guide to Swimming: Pool Workouts
- Beginner’s Guide to Aqua Aerobics
You don’t have to go far or fast. Just put one foot in front of the other, and walk. A lap around the track, a jaunt around the block, or a hike through the park is a great way to get your body moving. Brisk walking has long been an underrated exercise compared to more strenuous activities like running. The truth is that walking has many of the same benefits, including weight loss and a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Walking provides immediate mental health benefits as well. Not only does it boost your mood like most physical activity, it also allows your mind to wander while you’re doing it. This increases creative thinking in a way that more engaging exercises don’t. The best part? You don’t have to do it alone. Grab your pup, your friends, or your kids, and catch up on quality time as you exercise together.
- Is Walking Good Exercise? Most Experts Say Yes
- 7 Ways to Turn Walking the Dog into a Workout
- Power Walkers: 3 Treadmill Workouts Just for You
- Exercise in Nature: Why Hiking is the Perfect Mind-Body Workout
Join the Club
Group fitness classes are an amazing option for people in recovery for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, they offer the opportunity to socialize and meet new people. For many people in recovery, finding new friends is one of the biggest challenges. Finding new friends who are interested in living a sober, healthy lifestyle can be even more difficult. Luckily, your local gym is full of them!
Another advantage is that group exercise classes are designed for a variety of different skill levels. Whether you’re learning dance moves in Zumba or practicing lunges in HIIT, the instructor will offer modifications for beginners and people with lower back problems or other considerations. And, as time goes on and you get more comfortable and fit, your routine will follow.
- The Benefits of Group Fitness Classes
- The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Group Fitness Workout
- 6 Group Workouts that Beat Hitting the Gym Alone
- Make Friends at the Gym
One more point of conversation before you get started that isn’t fun, but is necessary: they call it a “runner’s high” for a reason. When endorphins are released, exercise can give you the same elated feeling as drugs. And, when overdone or combined with other unhealthy habits, it can be just as dangerous and addictive. People have been known to trade one addiction for another. So, be careful and remember: you can have too much of a good thing.