The first days, weeks and months of sobriety are full of challenges. Fortunately, they are all challenges that can be overcome with plenty of support! In these early days of sobriety, you may be feeling physically depleted, fatigued, lethargic and depressed. Alternately, you may feel restless, agitated, unable to sleep and anxious. You may even alternate between the two! As unpleasant as these feelings may be, it is important to understand that they are normal. And, they are often accompanied by feelings of relief, gratitude, peace and hope for the future. How Addiction Affects The Body And Mind Addiction takes a toll on you. Physically, you may be suffering from mild to moderate malnutrition. You may be sleep deprived and your immune system may be compromised, making you susceptible to illness. Mentally, you are exhausted. Drug use, lack of sleep and poor nutrition take a toll on the brain. Neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating mood and energy levels are seriously out of balance, and can remain that way for months. When you quit using, your body and mind begin healing right away. It doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes time. Fortunately, you can help things along by taking extra good care of yourself. One way to do that is through daily exercise. How Can Exercise Help Me Feel Better? In addition to eating healthy foods and doing your best to get adequate rest, exercise can be a vital part of your healing process. Here are eight reasons why exercise is essential in early sobriety: 1. Increased Energy As hard as it may seem to pull yourself up and get moving, that is exactly what you need to do to increase your energy levels. Even taking a daily walk will help boost your cardiovascular system and elevate energy levels. 2. Improved Sleep Getting in some cardiovascular exercise in the form of brisk walking, jogging, cycling or other activities doesn’t just increase your energy, it also helps you sleep better at night. 3. Reduce Cravings No matter how much we value our newly earned sobriety, cravings can come out of nowhere. Exercise has been shown to help combat cravings. It boosts dopamine levels in the brain, triggering its reward system. And, it provides a distraction, giving you something positive and healthy to focus on while getting a natural boost. 4. Improved Immune System Active using can ravage your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and flu. Exercise helps flush bacteria out of your lungs and increases the circulation of white blood cells. Just a little exercise a day can help keep illness at bay! 5. Boosts Mood You are going through a lot of changes right now. You may be feeling depressed. You may be experiencing sadness or grief. Physical activity causes the brain to release “feel good” chemicals in the brain. It helps fend off depression and increases your overall sense of well-being. 6. Increases Cognitive Function Poor memory. Brain fog. Difficulty focusing. Trouble putting words together or making decisions. These problems are often due to prolonged use of substances, including alcohol. Studies have shown that exercise isn’t just good for improving physical health, it is also good for cognitive health. It increases oxygen to the brain and helps improve overall function. Addicts in early recovery are frequently told it can take a year or more to fully recover mentally from drug use. Consistent exercise can help this process along. It can also help stave off problems later on. 7. Increases Confidence You may have come into recovery feeling depleted, weak, vulnerable and unhealthy. But in a short period of time, you have begun eating healthier foods and getting lots of sleep. You have started walking, or swimming or cycling. Maybe some yoga or strength training moves like pushups, squats and light weights. Over just a few short weeks, you are feeling stronger, your endurance is increasing and you feel your strength coming back. You have made a huge, wonderful change in your life, and exercise is part of your self-care. You will enjoy the increased confidence you feel with your new exercise routine and the strides you are making in your recovery. 8. Maintain Healthy Weight Unfortunately, many women struggle with their body image. While the goal should be to have a healthy level of self-esteem no matter what your weight, it is important to your overall health to maintain a healthy body weight that makes you feel and look good. Fad diets and drugs are not the answer! Working out and eating right is! Getting Help For Women’s Addiction If you are a woman who is struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. Our program was created to meet the unique needs of women and offers holistic, comprehensive treatments and therapies that you normally only find in more expensive treatment centers, such as equine therapy, art therapy and horticulture therapy. If you are ready to get a fresh start in life, contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817.