29 JULY 2016

Running and exercise transform lives of people in recovery

Running and Exercise During Addiction Recovery

Eminem recently made the news for getting into great shape, but this isn’t the first time that his weight made headlines. In 2007, the rapper weighed more than 200 pounds due to a poor diet resulting from stomach issues that stemmed from his addiction with painkillers. Eminem faced his unhealthy weight when he finished his addiction rehab program. In recent interviews he said that he started running to battle insomnia that can occur for a while after transitioning to a sober lifestyle.

The rapper said that this experience helped him understand how many people replace addiction with exercise, and indeed it is the best way to harness energy and reconnect with the body. During periods of drug and alcohol abuse, people often neglect their health as addiction wears away emotional as well as physical health. Creating a bind-body balance is important in recovery and maintaining sobriety, and exercise is a great way to accomplish this.

Going for a run boost endorphins and has been proven to alleviate physical and psychological stress. When thoughts are building up, strap on the sneakers and burn the anxiety into productive energy. This is good for everyone in any walk of life, rather or not they are working toward a sober life. Regular life stressors like work, traffic, relationship problems all build tension in the body that needs to be worked out. Exercise refocuses the mind and can have medication-like benefits.

In fact, the reputable Mayo Clinic described exercise as “meditation in motion.” This means that we can achieve the same Zen state through movement and briefly forget what is happening in our lives - but in a healthy and productive way. It is absolutely normal to need an escape sometimes and that is true for any person. The goal of addiction rehab is to change the coping mechanism from dangerous escape via substance abuse to healthy energy.

If this sounds too optimistic for you, starting a running regimen may change the way you think about that. Studies have concluded that people who exercise regularly have increased self-confidence and optimism while experiencing less anxiety and depression. A part of this is due to physical well being, as the body recalibrates during exercise. However, it is mostly from feelings of accomplishment, pride, and self-esteem as you work to reach your goals.

And as Eminem found, running and exercise improves sleep while making you more energetic during the day. You don’t have to be a master runner from Day 1 - it’s just one step at a time.