Young man training on the beach in morning. Young man on morning run outdoors

Stronger Body, Sharper Mind

Exercise is a proven remedy for a variety of ailments, from diabetes to depression—and even chemical dependency. Studies show that vigorous exercise improves heart health, removes toxins from the body, increases concentration, aids in weight loss, relieves stress, and reduces substance cravings.

The Biology of Cravings

A 2010 Scandinavian Journal of Public Health article found that drug abuse clients who exercised as part of their rehab regimen enjoyed “improved quality of life and reduced intake of the drugs they had been abusing.” They also reported more energy and an overall sense of confidence about their appearance. In studies conducted on rats, the journal Biological Psychiatry reported that rats with access to an exercise wheel had decreased drug cravings and experienced less damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain. WHY? For several reasons.

Exercise boosts dopamine production.

When an addict uses, he gets a dopamine response: a chemical “reward,” so to speak. Over time, his brain becomes trained to expect this chemical reward. In effect, dopamine is dangerously reprogramming the brain. Fortunately, exercise also elevates dopamine—which decreases stress and increases motivation, mood, and wellbeing without nasty drug side effects. (It also delivers a natural high produced by the release of endorphins!)

Exercise & alcohol abstinence heals the brain.

Men addicted to alcohol and drugs suffer from forgetfulness, lack of concentration, and neuronal damage. When combined with a proven rehabilitation program, exercise has been shown to “rebuild” the brain of an addict. This is called neurogenesis.

Exercise fills the void left by alcohol and drug addiction.

Physicians recommend cardiovascular exercise, weight training, and mind-body workouts as treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction. A healthy body is resilient to stress, cravings, and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, exercise provides recovering addicts with a new pursuit and a healthy replacement for alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, or drugs.

Exercise improves confidence.

Many men admit to self-loathing and feelings of hopelessness while they are addicted to substances or activities. As they improve endurance, stamina, and physique with routine exercise, they are more likely to believe they can make larger changes and take charge of addiction recovery.

Mind-body exercise restores inner peace.

While men may shy away from yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other mind-body programs, we urge them to think again. Mind-body exercise regulates adrenaline and stress hormones and has been proven to help with addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and severe anxiety. “Chronically high levels of hormones are toxic to the body and central nervous system, and we know yoga can help reduce or balance the stress hormones in the body,” said Sat Bir Khalsa, assistant professor at Harvard University. “It makes sense that if you are less stressed, you may not be so quick to seek substances to cope.”

Exercise & Men’s Drug Addiction Treatment

Residential and outpatient drug recovery facilities are seeing positive results from incorporating fitness and nutrition into a holistic treatment approach. To learn more about the fitness, recreation, and team-building activities available at 10 Acre Ranch, dial 877.228.4679 today. Serving men 18 and older, our therapeutic group activity setting encourages clients to return to an active, healthy lifestyle as they pursue long-term sobriety.

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