Move it –

Sep. 26, 2020 – Exercise became my path to restoring my self-worth, my pride and my identity. I finally felt like myself again, and I’m convinced it saved me from going down a dangerous path. So many people have turned to alcohol or substances to cope with challenging times, and that could easily have been me too.

Having seen the power of exercise bring me back from rock bottom, I’ve made it a personal mission to help others realize the healing power of exercise. Because mental health is such a critical factor in addiction recovery, exercise is becoming a top priority in the way we treat and manage both short- and long-term recovery here at Desert Hope, an American Addiction Centers facility in Las Vegas. And we’re also working to incorporate physical fitness as part of our treatment regimen across our entire network of recovery centers.

Here’s why we’re making exercise a key priority to help patients find and stay on a path of self-care and sobriety. Many of these same benefits apply to anyone struggling with anxiety, depression or other issues that have intensified due to COVID-19 isolation.

• Natural mood booster: It’s well-documented that the hormones released during exercise, including endorphins and serotonin, can enhance mood and alleviate anxiety, fear and depression. This can help to offset symptoms of withdrawal and provide a natural “fix” without the use of substances that cause harm. For this reason, exercise also addresses some of the underlying mental conditions that lead to substance use.

• Improved sleep: Getting adequate sleep can be a huge problem for people in recovery. By fatiguing the body and setting up a healthy cortisol/melatonin cycle, exercise supports the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which can help offset sleep disturbances common during detox, ongoing recovery and for those dealing with mental health issues. If you’re worn out from a great workout, it’s pretty hard to lie awake all night with worry and anxiety.

• Patterns of healthy behavior: Many individuals in recovery need to fill the gap created when they shift away from a lifestyle of substance use. Trading addictive behaviors for exercise establishes a pattern of healthy behavior that has been shown to minimize the risk of relapse and decrease compulsion and cravings.