If you’ve been in recovery for long, chances are your counselors and physicians have sung the praises of regular exercise as part of a successful treatment plan. For sober, detoxing and recovering individuals, daily exercise delivers a host of benefits for physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

As winter arrives, skies are gray and temperatures take a turn for the worst, it’s easy to adopt a winter lifestyle characterized by Netflix binges, comfort foods and couch sit-ins. And, while there’s nothing wrong with an occasional night in or movie date with friends, persistent inactivity can lead to unhealthy weight gain, poor outlook, substance cravings or even a total relapse.

What Counts as Activity? 

Many people believe their exercise regimens have to be intense to deliver real benefits. But, according to Catrine Tudor-Locke, health researcher and chair of kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, exercise perks like a stronger heart, increased energy or clearer thinking increase the most when sedentary individuals move to a modestly active lifestyle. “The true value of exercise is in just getting off the couch,” said Tudor-Locke.

So, if an all-or-nothing exercise outlook leads you to abandon your goals for fear of failing, it’s best to reframe activity as something enjoyable and achievable. But what really counts as a ‘healthy activity’?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s initiative, Choose My Plate, physical activities may include options like these:

  • Walking briskly
  • Climbing stairs
  • Cleaning the house
  • Gardening (trimming shrubs, raking)
  • Golf
  • Water aerobics
  • Dancing
  • Playing soccer

Of course, if vigorous exercise motivates you to increase heart rate and build strength, activities like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), sprinting, basketball, lap swimming or heavy yard work are all valuable, as well.

Benefits of Winter Activity for Recovery

Winter in the Pacific Northwest can be trying for sober and recovering individuals. The temptation is great, and many people give in: sitting in front of the TV or hunkering down until spring. At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we infuse addiction treatment programs with leisure activities, physical fitness, relaxation techniques, meditation practices, and other options that keep brains and bodies in healthy motion.

Benefits of winter activity during recovery include, but are not limited to:

  • Stress reduction.Instead of using to deal with stress, recovering clients should engage in physical activities that raise heart rate, increase strength and endurance, release happy chemicals and alleviate tension.
  • Routine & structure. Recovering men and women are urged to develop routines that incorporate healthy work-life balance. Scheduling time for exercise, especially during winter, helps fitness become a daily habit that yields benefits for years to come.
  • Improved sleep. Insomnia is common among those receiving WA drug or alcohol treatment since substance cessation can interfere with good rest. Regular exercise is a natural remedy for sleep problems, and is thought to improve length and quality of sleep. People who exercise regularly report feeling more awake during the day and more rested after a good night’s sleep.
  • Enhanced energy. During workouts or activity, the heart pumps harder and oxygen levels increase. This boosted O2 can temporarily increase energy, and over time, cardiovascular health helps you feel better and accomplish more. If drugs or alcohol have been your go-to “feel good” solution, try exercising daily. A regimented exercise routine will help you take on the demands of a sober lifestyle.
  • Better mood. Detox and recovery is a roller coaster of emotions, so your counselor may recommend using exercise to level out these feelings. By releasing endorphins and jumpstarting the brain’s reward system, exercise can elevate mood and produce positive feelings. Bundle up for a walk around the block, run the stairs, clean the house, play with your grandkids or participate in an online workout when your mood drifts to the low side. Remember to give yourself grace, too. Recovery is difficult, and changing moods come with the territory.

Partner With Lakeside-Milam on Your Sobriety Journey

At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we utilize evidence-based treatment protocols, holistic symptom management, health and fitness, and time-tested therapies to help clients refocus their lives on sobriety. As a Pacific Northwest leader in drug and alcohol addiction treatment, we proudly offer a nationally recognized clinical program that is changing the lives of men and women across the U.S. With over 35 years of Washington treatment experience, our family-owned and -operated facility network offers detox, residential, outpatient and long-term recovery services for people of every age and background.

To learn more about Lakeside-Milam or inquire about insurance benefits and self-pay options, call 800.231.4303 today.

Time Magazine, “You Asked: Is Intense Exercise Better for Your Health?”

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