While the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supports the idea that physical activity may prevent drug abuse, studies also support the fact that physical training and attention to good nutrition can have a positive effect on the recoveries of those who are working to break free from drug and alcohol dependence and co-occurring disorders.

Learning how to prioritize physical health after years of prioritizing addiction or false standards of beauty can often be the hardest part of recovery – and one of the most important.

“The value of the exercise & training program at futures creates a positive mindset and feel good endorphins for clients who didn’t even want to step into the gym. They always leave thanking me and say how great they feel and now are inspired to come back. It is a great feeling to see that happen.”

-Brian Corbitt, Wellness Director

What Are the Benefits of Physical Training in Treatment?

There are almost too many benefits gained by incorporating physical training into a treatment program to list. The most important include:

  • Increasing physical strength, cardiovascular health and bone density
  • Improving mental health and mood
  • The addition of structure to a day once dedicated to drug use or co-occurring disorders
  • A sense of pride and accomplishment
  • The opportunity to socialize with others with a focus that is healthy
  • The opportunity to try new sports, exercise regimens and activities to augment overall fitness

How Does Physical Training Affect Substance Abuse Treatment?

Drugs and alcohol are toxins and, over time, they take a toll on the body’s systems. The cardiovascular system and the respiratory system are often negatively impacted by drug use of any kind. Regular physical training can:

  • Strengthen systems that were damaged during active drug abuse
  • Help to flush out toxins during the initial six month detox period after cessation of drug use
  • Provide stress relief during the process of working through underlying trauma and emotional issues that arise during recovery
  • Offer a distraction from cravings

Also, many patients gain weight during drug abuse treatment and recovery; exercise can help prevent associated health problems and self-esteem issues that often accompany unhealthy weight gain.

How Does Physical Training Benefit Eating Disorder Treatment?

A preoccupation with calories in and calories out defines most eating disorders, and for many patients, excessive exercise is the way they rid their body of unwanted calories. Once a patient seeks treatment for help learning how to avoid over-exercising related to an eating disorder, is the answer to stop exercising? Absolutely not. Just like it is necessary for those with disordered eating habits to learn how to eat healthfully, patients who struggle with compulsive exercise must learn how to exercise in a way that prioritizes maximum health and not maximum weight loss.

Does Physical Training Provide Double the Benefit to Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

While patients may not see amplified benefits of incorporating exercise into their treatment regimen when they struggle with both eating disorders and addiction, exercise is one of many holistic treatment options that benefits both treatment protocols equally. The incorporation of physical training into a treatment program designed to address both disorders simultaneously is extremely effective for those in both inpatient and outpatient treatment because it maximizes time in the therapeutic schedule.

What Types of Exercise Are Included in Physical Training?

Depending upon the unique needs of the patient, recommended physical training regimens will differ. In general, it is advised to:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Increase cardiovascular exercise if weight loss is necessary due to binge eating, emotional eating or food addiction
  • Incorporate weight training into the physical training routine
  • Change the exercise routine regularly

Will Physical Training Benefit Your Treatment Program?

Because exercise is so good for the body, mind and spirit, it’s almost always a beneficial addition to treatment. However, if you have any physical disabilities or medical issues due to long-term drug abuse or chronic calorie deprivation, certain exercises may be recommended over others. Always talk to a doctor before beginning a physical training routine. If you would like to learn more about physical training and its effects on addiction treatment or co-occurring issues, contact us at Futures today.

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