The Discovery House Blog

4 Benefits of Exercise for Women in Recovery

September 27, 2017 Wellness and Nutrition

A lot of women in recovery are shocked by how their health and overall well-being improves once they stop doing drugs and drinking alcohol. However, what they don’t realize, is that healthy eating choices and regular exercise can make you feel even better than you already do in your recovery.

Let’s Talk Benefits of an Active Lifestyle in Recovery

There is no denying the major benefits of a substance-free life but no one appreciates these benefits more than someone who has struggled through addiction. It’s the reason that before and after photos have become not only commonplace but actually quite popular on social media. A more recent post that went viral in late 2016, featured a young women named Dejah Hall and her story of recovery.

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Wow, right? Recovery is possible and it looks good. However, what is most interesting to note is that these physical changes are often a reflection of what is going on inside. When you eat healthy and exercise you will look and feel better. 

More specifically, here are some benefits of exercise in recovery: 

  • Relieves and reduces stress
  • Better sleep
  • Feel more energized
  • Improved outlook
  • Better moods
  • Reduced chance for health complications 

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Enhance Your Recovery With Regular Exercise

Where should you start? How much is too much? What is enough? 

As a women in recovery, you’re very familiar with the idea of more is more. You don’t really do anything just a little bit. When you like something, you go all out. Add in the impossible beauty and lifestyle ideals that are pushed upon women in general and you’re facing some really big monsters. Exercise addiction is a real and very dangerous concept. What’s more is that women are more at risk for developing it than men. 

How often should women exercise? 

Any amount of exercise is beneficial to your overall health. Try not to get too caught up in numbers but focus more on consistency.

For most adults, The Department of Health and Human Services recommends: 

“Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.”

What is moderate aerobic activity? Brisk walking, swimming, running, dancing, playing with your kids, or chasing your pet around. Anything that gets your heart rate up.

4 Benefits of Exercise for Women in Recovery

Say Goodbye to Stress

Well, not completely. Stress is a part of life but a healthy and balanced lifestyle can help keep your stress levels low. Your body produces endorphins which are chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers. When you exercise, your body bumps up its endorphin production (also known as “the runner’s high”)  which contributes to a clearer mind and calmer state. 

Have a Good Night’s Sleep (For Once!)

Having a good night’s sleep can be a struggle, especially in early recovery. Roughly 108 million Americans struggle with insomnia, a common side effect of withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol. Luckily, there have been more studies recently which suggest that exercise can help to reduce insomnia. 

“There has been more and more research in the last decade showing exercise can reduce insomnia,” Rush University clinical psychologist Kelly Glazer Baron said. “In one study we did, for example, older women suffering from insomnia said their sleep improved from poor to good when they exercised. They had more energy and were less depressed.”1

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A Clearer Mind and Calmer Soul

We are all a lot more focused on outward health and beauty but what we tend to often forget is that your mind also needs to be cared for on a regular basis. Regular exercise has been shown to improve your mental health and has a profound affect on depression, anxiety, and ADHD. But there are some things you can do, such as yoga or meditation, that can positively contribute to your overall mental health. After all, exercise is meditation in motion

When asked about how to stay healthy and motivated in recovery, sober blogger Tawny Lara of Sobrietea Party, she summed it up perfectly: 

“First thing that came to mind was an Instagram feed clean up. I unfollowed all accounts that encouraged weight loss/make up tips/anything in that realm. Now I only follow people I care about, look up to, and help me feel grounded.”

Being healthy doesn’t stop at what you eat and what activities keep you active. It’s also about what you absorb. The movies and television shows you watch, the hobbies you participate in, as well as the people you surround yourself with can all have deep effects on your overall well-being. 

Be a Healthier You

In addition to the here and now, aerobic exercise can help you live longer. Not only does it keep you fit now but there are even more benefits waiting for you down the road. Think of it as one of those buy one take one home deals at your favorite restaurant. You invest to have the results you want now while simultaneously saving for later. 

What are some ways that you stay active and healthy in your recovery? 

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