Running on the Road to Recovery

Running has a lot of positive physical and mental health benefits for individuals recovering from substance use disorders. See where running can take you.

Road to Recovery

One man is running on the road

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Swapping out new good habits for old bad habits is an excellent way to begin the new year and your recovery. Running is a great activity that requires no equipment besides a good pair of sneakers. Building new habits take time, and like sobriety, running is no different. We’ve all heard the phrase “one day at a time,” and running should be treated the same way.
Running comes with many health benefits that can help rid the body of some of the effects of addiction and repair your way back to an addiction-free life. Taking those first few steps can be intimidating, but in time we’re sure you will grow to enjoy running just as much as we do. For anyone, keeping up any new routine can be a challenge, but it can be even more difficult for individuals in recovery. On a positive note, making running a regular habit can be easier than you might think — try these tips to make your new healthy habit stick.

1. Running produces a natural high:

Dopamine, the chemical in the brain that produces pleasure, is heavily impacted by drug abuse. The drugs or alcohol deplete the dopamine in the brain, which keeps the user wanting to continue their addiction to feel good. When you run, the brain produces dopamine and provides that feeling of reward/ pleasure without drugs and alcohol. Research supports that the natural high from running can be an alternative reward to the euphoria produced by drugs. The mental health benefit from running is huge.

2. Running releases painkilling endorphins:

Due to the chemical imbalance prolonged drug and alcohol use causes in the brain, they are sometimes left feeling depressed or anxious when the user stops consuming substances. Running releases Endorphins which are another brain chemical that boosts the reward system in the brain. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the leading cause of death, disability, and other chronic medical conditions. Running is not only a great alternative to a sedentary lifestyle. It also increases your overall sense of well-being and, thereby, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.

3. Running helps the brain heal:

Running helps with focus and improves working memory. It also helps to switch between tasks and keeps your overall mood elevated and stabilized. Cardiovascular exercise like running can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.

4. Running improves the clarity of thought:

Once you detox from the drugs and alcohol, the cognitive function begins to be restored. Running boosts the brain’s chemicals that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an essential part of the brain for memory and learning.

5. Running can be a positive addiction:

You never want to replace one addiction for another, but it’s ok to begin running and continue to look forward to using running as a stress reliever and a productive way to spend your time. Running is a safe and healthy alternative to a substance use disorder.

6. Running can provide a new support network:

Once clean and sober, we’ve all heard that people with addictions should avoid individual places and things that could trigger a relapse. Your new running hobby could become an excellent resource for new people, places, and things. You may find these individuals in the park on a run, race, or through a local running club. The best part is that since these individuals are running to stay healthy, they will most likely keep to a healthy lifestyle.

7. Running can provide routine and structure:

Having a routine in recovery is essential. Setting up a running schedule for the week can cover how you will spend your free time and help schedule the rest of your week’s activities around your running schedule. Running is a positive alternative to destructive behavioral addictions.

8. Running can help you develop self-discipline.

As part of a running regimen, the daily habits you develop can foster more significant personal growth. Running can help you set healthy boundaries. One of the first boundaries you learn to set as a runner is daily, weekly, and monthly running times or mileage.

9. Running can help regulate sleep:

In early recovery, your body is readjusting to functioning without drugs and alcohol, resulting in sleep interruption. Since running is such a physical activity, it will naturally fatigue the body, making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

10. Running can change your mindset:

Self-sabotage can be our worst enemy in recovery. Running helps to promote positive self-talk. It provides a growth mindset and helps you eliminate words like “I can’t or Don’t,” not using those words helps you focus on what you want to achieve instead of what you want to avoid.

11. Running can provide a sense of self-worth:

It can provide a sense of accomplishment when you set out for a run and achieve your mileage or time goal. You will most likely experience challenging portions of the run where you need to push yourself to finish, but in the end, you’ll have a sense of self-worth because your persevered and completed it. Running is similar to recovery because there will be challenges along the way, but you can push yourself to overcome them.

12. Running cleanses and strengthens your body:

You may think you are only using your legs when running, but running targets every muscle group in the body. Because of this, it won’t take long to see the physical results of running, such as improved stamina, reduced risk of heart attack or stroke, weight loss, and better breathing ability. Drugs and alcohol weaken your body and muscles, and running will give you your strength back.

13. Running helps you challenge yourself:

Running is a great way to challenge yourself. During active addiction, you rely on drugs or alcohol to make you feel good. Allow running to be a way to achieve new abilities and push limitations. You will feel a strong sense of self that will carry over into your other recovery goals.

14. Running place you in control of your recovery:

Running is something you can do anywhere, which means you are in control. So if you wake up at 4 am and feel anxious, you can throw your sneakers on and go for a run. Regular running can help ease feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. You run your life rather than your addiction running you.

Ready. Set. Run. Recover

Avatar Residential Detox Center offers several substance abuse treatment programs. Contact our 24-hour helpline at (973)-774-7222 and talk with one of our addiction specialists to learn more about detox and our alcohol and drug treatments, mental health options, residential rehab facilities, alcohol addiction center New Jersey, and how to afford addiction treatment. Get started on your road o recovery today.

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