The benefits of exercise go a long way in helping you create and maintain a new life without drugs or alcohol. Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center addresses all of the aspects of your life that have been affected by your drug or alcohol addiction, including your physical health and well-being. PaRC’s comprehensive treatment program includes customized fitness sessions with our onsite fitness specialist in our state-of-the-art fitness center.
The benefits of exercise help to fill up the emptiness that you will feel when you stop using drugs or alcohol. Addiction has taken over and affected every aspect of your life. When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you might feel like there are voids inside of you. If you do not address the voids in a healthy way, you will turn back to drugs or alcohol to fill them. The voids need to be filled with positive behaviors for lasting recovery to take root.
The various benefits of exercise help fill the voids by repairing your body’s natural reward system and by counteracting the negative effects of anxiety and boredom - many of the same reasons why people use.
One of the benefits of exercise is the release of the chemical “dopamine” in your brain. Dopamine is a substance that is part of a natural, feel-good reward system that is built into your body. Dopamine is released through pleasurable activities including exercise.
When dopamine is released into your brain, you experience a sense of well-being and happiness. For someone in recovery, those positive feelings are one of the best benefits of exercise; they are referred to as a “natural high”. Natural highs are healthy; they are non-destructive substitutes for the feelings that drugs and alcohol produce and they are absolutely critical to a life of contentment and peace during your recovery from drugs or alcohol.
It is likely that your built-in reward system has been “deactivated” due to your drug or alcohol use. Exercise is an extremely effective way to reactivate that system. Activating your body’s natural feel-good reward system is absolutely critical for a successful journey away from drugs and alcohol. Your reward system will enable you to experience and enjoy healthy pleasures and will help push cravings and negative thoughts out of your body and mind.
There are more benefits of exercise and they are all just as necessary to recovery as reactivating your dopamine reward system. Depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, boredom and many other negative conditions are caused or made worse by drugs and alcohol and they can undermine your treatment and recovery. Exercise helps repair those conditions over time; it counteracts anxiety, depression and impulsivity. You gain a sense of control and satisfaction over your life in general when you engage in a regular exercise program.
Exercise helps you shift your focus to a more productive life. It redirects the brain and moves your mind away from dwelling on drugs or alcohol. Being in motion stimulates the feeling that you can accomplish something and it offsets feelings of hopelessness and uselessness. PaRC harnesses the many benefits of exercise by incorporating fitness into our treatment programs.
Gabriel Fuzat is PaRC’s certified Fitness Specialist. He has been training people of all ages for over 20 years. Gabriel works with patients to create a healthy program for recovery centered on proper exercise and nutrition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Gabriel is passionate about helping patients achieve their goals and wants to ensure that patients are educated so that they can make the best decisions possible.
I have never gone to the gym in my life. Why do I need to start now?
You need to replace the drugs or alcohol you were doing with something else. Unnatural chemicals are being used in place of what your body can do for itself. With increased exercise you will become more physically, mentally and emotionally able to deal with stressors rather than turning to drugs or alcohol to feel better.
How long do you recommend I go to the gym?
It’s been shown that exercise can have a benefit at as little as seven minutes a day. In fact, the 2007 governmental recommendations tagline is “something is better than nothing”. Supervised walking groups are coordinated three days a week for 30 minutes/day.
Can I go to the gym on my own?
The fitness center is open for patient use during free time before breakfast, before dinner and in the late evening. Men and woman have their own sessions.
What types of exercises should I undertake?
Anything that gets the heart rate up: strength, power and cardio. It doesn’t matter what the movement is, as long as you move.
Suffering from addiction?
No matter the question we can help.