Thursday, August 12, 2010
We are learning that one size does not fit all when it comes to addiction recovery programs. The 12-step programs have and will continue to help millions successfully recover from addictions. However, many recovery programs are now taking a more holistic approach when treating addictions — not just alcohol and drugs — but other addictions like cigarette smoking and binge eating.
The holistically oriented programs supplement the traditional approach of beating an addiction with lifestyle changes including exercise, nutrition, stress management and optimal rest. That’s why as a fitness trainer, I am now talking about addictions, because exercise can play a central role.
Exercising every day has been proven to positively impact an addict in many ways. For example, an active addict can lose structure and meaning to his/her day, but exercise immediately provides this. Exercise fills time and keeps the mind busy. The process of getting fit or actually training for a specific event builds confidence and gives the recovering addict a goal to work toward.
Exercise can also be beneficial in easing symptoms of anxiety and depression, which go hand-in-hand with addiction. An imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain produces the anxiety and depression. Exercise not only impacts endorphins, but also increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, creating more balance. This produces the famous “runners high,” decreases anxiety, and provides an overall feeling of “calm.”
These were the benefits for Crandell, and they helped him overcome his addiction for good and get his life back on track. He is now helping others overcome addiction with the organization he founded called Racing for Recovery.
He says the holistic approach to recovery helped him “not only physically, but spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, as well.” 1 In other words, the whole person. You can learn more about the organization at www.racingforrecovery.com.
Research shows that 75% of Americans know someone who has an addiction. 2 If you are struggling with addiction now, I urge you to seek out programs that encourage exercise. It has helped many others like Todd Crandell, and it could be just what you need to finally overcome your addiction.
Myers, C. 2009. Exercise and Addiction. ACE Certified News. 6-7.
National Survey, 2008; Lake Research Partners for Scientists & Engineers for America. Presented in partnership with ScienceDebate2008.com.
[ Ed. Note: Melissa Hawthorne, RN, BSN, CSCS is the owner of Priority Fitness Personal Training and Wellness. She is a Master Trainer for the Resist-a-ball Company, ISCA Personal Training, Kick-boxing, and Beamfit. Melissa serves as a fitness consultant for the LaValle Metabolic Institute. To learn more, click here.]