Exercise is a natural way to strengthen the body and improve mental well-being. There are many ways to reap the rewards of exercise, from taking a walk to running a marathon, and everything in between.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can benefit those in recovery in a number of ways:

  • Creating positive changes in the brain by increasing brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), and norepinephrine, which may help the brain deal more efficiently with stress.
  • Alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Improving sleep. Insomnia is not uncommon in the early stages of recovery. Exercise can help people to sleep better at night.
  • Boredom can be dangerous for those in recovery. Exercise fills time. When done in groups there is the additional benefit of being around other people pursuing healthy lifestyles.
  • Building self-esteem. Exercise can lead to a sense of achievement which can help build self-esteem and improve self-image.
  • Distraction. Exercise can be a great distraction when boredom, loneliness, or depression set in. Having a more positive focus, like exercise, can help prevent relapse.
  • Reducing stress, boosting energy levels and improving circulation.
  • Providing structure. Going to a regular yoga class or taking a walk every day can provide structure in your daily life. People who have filled a lot of their time with drinking can be at a loss with what to do with the new-found time on their hands.
  • Improving overall health. Exercise can help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones, lower body fat, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Increasing a sense of personal satisfaction and joy.

When beginning an exercise program, it is important to keep your current state of health in mind. If you have not exercised in a while, you should consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. This is especially important for people who have been abusing alcohol for a long period and for those with any medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, as well as for those who are pregnant or are recovering from an injury. It is important to know your limits and to build upon your exercise program as you increase your fitness level in order to avoid injury related to over-exercise.

Individuals who would like to improve their health and overall well-being, reduce stress, and add structure, activity, and fun to their lives.

There are many, many ways to exercise, and the right one for you will depend upon your interests, budget, and present fitness level. You may wish to work with a personal trainer, join a gym or recreation center, or take classes. You may wish to exercise with a friend or by yourself. You may wish to just go for a daily walk around your neighborhood. Talk to your doctor about what activity level is appropriate for your present state of health and fitness.

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