It Is Easy to Make Exercise Excuses
Sometimes it can seem as if there are only two levels of exercise: intense and none.
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And let’s face it, given those choices, a whole lot of us are going to go with the second option.
Of course, we all know that it is a good idea to exercise. But that does not always translate into motivation to actually do it. There are shows to binge, naps to take, and a whole host of everyday demands that can fill up our time and make it extremely easy to keep exercise off the schedule.
Maintaining an Exercise Routine Is Important
For a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, however, a decision to avoid exercise is about more than muscle tone or weight gain. Getting enough exercise is an important strategy for maintaining your sobriety.
That’s true for a couple of reasons. First, when you feel better physically, you are less likely to find yourself craving drugs or alcohol. In fact, since substance abuse has a negative impact on your physical health, getting some exercise can lead to feeling better than you have in a long time.
But it isn’t just your physical health that gets a boost from exercise. Your mental health does, too. And good mental health and ongoing sobriety are intertwined. Getting regular exercise helps support your mental health and thereby protects your sobriety.
That might all seem well and good, but if you are still thinking there are only two approaches to exercise—athlete-level intensity or couch-potato laziness—you might still be resistant to pursuing the advantages that come with exercise.
If so, we have some good news.
Exercise Is Not an All or Nothing Situation
Here’s something you probably already know: You don’t actually have to train like an Olympic athlete to get significant benefit from exercising. Heck, you don’t even have to train like a middle-aged kickball player to get significant benefit from exercising.
What you do need to do is get moving more. That’s a pretty low barrier to participation—and it can take any number of forms.
For example, while it has become sort of a cliché to hear people talk about getting their steps in, there is something valuable about upping your daily step count. And it is easy to do. Park a little farther away. Take the stairs instead of the elevator (or, if you work on, say, the fifth floor, climb a flight or two before hopping in the elevator). Build a 10-minute walk into your lunch hour. Challenge yourself to reach X number of steps a day or a week and track your progress.
An Exercise Routine You Can Find Joy In
It might also be helpful to think back to what you enjoyed as a child or a young adult. Maybe you liked to run or bike or swim or shoot hoops or play tennis. It doesn’t matter whether you were a varsity athlete in high school or just a person who enjoyed chasing a ball or frisbee around with your friends or biking around your neighborhood for hours on end. There is a good chance that you would still enjoy the kinds of activities you enjoyed back then. Give something you used to love another chance. You might find that you still love it.
You might also keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to look like sports or weight-lifting or any of the things we might traditionally associate with it. You could, for example, sign up for a dance class. Dancing can be excellent exercise—and for many folks it can be a lot more fun than anything that might happen in a gym. For others, yoga might provide a similar option—something that is exercise but doesn’t necessarily feel like exercise.
You get the point by now. The key to getting more exercise is to find something easy to work into your schedule and enjoyable to do.
Exercise Your Ability to Reclaim Your Sobriety
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, the time to get help is right away. At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we offer evidence-based, compassionate, personalized treatment that will help you regain and maintain your sobriety. We have the expertise and experience necessary to provide you with the resources, strategies, and support you need to start your recovery journey with confidence.
Getting sober is no idle exercise. It is essential to reclaiming your life. We are here to help.