Exercise Therapy is a regimen or plan of physical activities designed and prescribed for specific therapeutic goals and has been a vital and longstanding prescribed therapy for decades.

This type of therapy, practiced all around the world, is based on the principles of exercise science and – when adapted to the neurologically impaired patient – its focus is on recovery of function.

Patients who participate in an exercise therapy program can benefit from increased motor or sensory function, increased independence, reduction of medication, reduction of hospital visits, and increased overall health.

How can Exercise Therapy Help me to Recover?

Exercise therapy can help to relieve stress, get a better night’s sleep, combat depression, and generally improve our sense of well-being. Physical activity and exercise can help deal with depression as they cause the body to release endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals in the body known to elevate moods. It literally makes a person feel good.

While popular culture paints drug and/or alcohol rehab as hospital beds, IV drips and group counseling sessions, addiction recovery can also be more “natural”, too.

Physical activity and exercise give a patient’s recovery a lively change. Whether a person is walking the road toward sobriety or preparing for that first step, exercise therapy for addiction treatment can be as close as your own body and as simple as walking outside.

Benefits of Exercise Therapy

Benefits of exercise in recovery seem to appear rather fast too, working like an antidepressant, in particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helping patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.

Exercise and addiction recovery works by restoring the brain’s balance of “happiness-inducing” chemicals like dopamine — a balance that drug and alcohol abuse disrupts.

Physical activity boosts the presence of these chemicals, too. Exercise therapy for addiction treatment douses the brain with dopamine, so a patient exercises more often to release more of it. The fitness rises, and so the mood rises, as well.

There are also added benefits of exercise in recovery for patients. The act of practicing an exercise routine — and committing to completing some physical activity every week also keeps the mind off using drugs and/or alcohol.

Through exercise therapy for addiction treatment, patients not only receive positive stimulation biochemically, but they also improve mentally from seeing themselves improve physically.

Naturally, after years of substance abuse, their bodies have regressed. With exercise therapy recovering patients not only feel stronger, they actually are stronger. Exercise and addiction recovery gives patients a strong body, this helping create a mentality that instills a sense of independence and confidence.

Some of the most popular types of exercise therapy are:

  • Yoga: Many drug treatment centers unroll yoga mats as part of their recovery programs. It’s easy to see why; the benefits of exercise in recovery trough yoga practice has numerous mental and physical health benefits. More physically demanding “power yoga” focuses on strengthening the body, which releases dopamine in the brain. Less intense “restorative” yoga plunges yogis into medication, unpacking anxiety and stress that can trigger relapse.
  • Hiking/Walking: Enjoying the Great Outdoors can boost dopamine levels during addiction treatment. Studies show that a simple 15-minute walk can help stave off cravings when they arise. A brisk stroll outside can also boost overall brain function by supporting new brain cell growth.
  • Strength Training: Cardio exercise and addiction recovery get the most of the attention, but lifting a few weights also has recovery benefits. Many recovering patients suffer from insomnia, as they are unable to sleep without using. Weight training or bodyweight exercises like push-ups can help reboot the body’s sleep cycle over time.
  • Team Sports: Throwing darts or shooting some hoops with like-minded friends provides more than a good workout. The camaraderie built playing casual team games can be a crucial piece to long-term recovery. Forming new relationships that don’t revolve around drinking or using drugs helps patients feel integrated back into society.

Being healthy and exercising is no longer a task, but a way of life. In this regard, exercise therapy for addiction treatment helps fill the void that patients have after being separated from their dependency on drugs.

Completing physical challenges can boost self-confidence during recovery, all while releasing dopamine in the brain. The memories made during these exercise therapies can be strong reminders that you’re capable of overcoming any literal or figurative hurdle.