I remember the first time I went jogging. A good friend of mine, who had always been into fitness and a healthy lifestyle, told me one afternoon at a Cafe how it had changed his life. He knew I was going through rehab from alcohol abuse and he knew how hard I was working on it.
Back then, I never considered doing exercise on a regular basis, least of all take on a jogging routine. I used to have problems with running, and yet I always had to do it. Run to catch the bus, run back home to pick up my wallet, run to the bank before it closed, but I never thought it could help me the way it did.
When we went jogging that week, we decided to start easy. A couple laps around the block, no sprinting and having a nice shiny plastic bottle I bought the day before as a little motivational token. Even though it wasn’t too stressful or demanding, when we finished I felt like I was going to die.
I don’t think I had ever sweated that much before in my life, and as my friend laughed at me I thought I’d never do it again. Surprisingly, I found the motivation the next day to get up early and we met at the same spot as the day before. I haven’t stopped jogging ever since, and it’s been more than 5 years since I decided to turn my life around with exercise.
5 Ways Exercise Can Help Through Addiction Recovery
Now that I’ve come such a long way in my addiction recovery process and have got to see how much exercise has helped me, I’d like to share 5 ways it made the difference in my life:
1. It Avoids Relapse
It is proven that establishing a positive routine of activities decreases the risk of engagement in negative habits. When we were out jogging, not only I totally forget about cravings or my need to drink, but the thought never seemed to be even present in my mind.
I started to set personal little weekly goals for my times and distances. My friend who obviously had a lot more experience than I did, told me how to gradually increase the difficulty without dying at the end of the routine. After a couple weeks, we moved to the park where he regularly jogged so that we could get serious.
I was quite surprised to learn about all the benefits that exercise can have in life. Mostly, the fact that it literally works like an antidepressant. When I started exercising, my jogging-mate told me how the brain releases endorphins and how that makes us feel naturally better and happier.
It was something amazing to know. As I was going through addiction recovery, I was still dealing with anxiety and depression, so having my body hacked into a better mood was one of the things I was most grateful for.
3. It Improves Confidence and Self-esteem
This one was a very nice and surprising side effect I wasn’t expecting. I always had low self-esteem, and after being an addict for so long, I was not happy with how I looked. When I started noticing how I was looking slimmer and healthier, my confidence subconsciously improved.
I began to acknowledge how my determination, motivation, and resilience was bringing out a better version of myself. I was feeling happier about who I was and along with my treatment, I felt like was being given a second chance.
4. It helps to Socialize In a Totally Healthy Environment
Well, aside from the fact that I regained an amazing friendship with my jogging partner, we also started meeting other people in the park and on the paths where we used to run. We later became friends with a married couple that went jogging every Sunday with their dog.
I was going to picnics with new friends we made, and the best part of all was that through one of them I met my wife, who obviously has been an outstanding support throughout my life ever since.
With the short-term goals that I was setting myself for the routines, I was focusing on what I had at hand without losing my mind over the big picture. I was able to give baby steps into a successful addiction recovery and learned to enjoy my everyday life in ways that I never did before.
Realizing there are always things to look forward to even if they are small is always of great help for anyone. That’s something that sets a steady base to build happiness, and that’s something that up to this day I still try to keep in mind. I also learned how to get in touch with my inner self by meditating every day, which on the long run gave me another strong pillar to hold onto when times got tough.
I owe a lot to both my jogging friend and my wife because without them everything would have been a lot harder than what it was. Thanks to them, I learned many things, one of which is how little things that may seem insignificant at one point can have an amazing snowball effect in life.
What jogging gave me was a lot more than just a fit body and a healthy mind. It opened many doors to all the wonderful things that I now cherish most. I found that I had an amazing friend who was willing to go through thick and thin with me. I found an amazing wife that has been on my side since we met, and I got to start a new life where I’m healthy and happy with myself and everyone around me.
If you’d like to ask a question or would simply like to suggest any other benefits jogging has brought to your life, feel free to leave a comment below.