Our guest blogger, Luke S. Mitchell, is an MS Undergraduate in Sports Journalism and manager of Exercise Bikes Expert. He is not only interested in the mind-body relationship and how motivation shapes our bodies but also in how we draw energy just from one simple yet powerful thought. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Are you undergoing treatment for a substance use disorder and feeling like you’re fighting a battle day-in day-out without much enjoyment in between? Have you learned that there’s a scientifically backed link between physical activity and higher odds of a successful recovery?
But not just any type of physical activity can give you a big motivational boost and keep you on the track. Spinning, in particular, prompts enough endorphin release to create a natural high without taking a toll on the joints or the body. Plus, spinning doesn’t require special equipment or an elaborate workout plan.
Why Staying Physically Active Is Essential for Recovery
In the treatment phase, substance abusers, regardless of their type of addiction, usually realize they have neglected critical components of their physical and mental health, which has taken a heavy toll on their overall wellbeing.
Chemical addiction can wreak havoc on your mental, emotional, and physical health, and can severely disrupt the mind-body connection. It’s not uncommon for addicts to get off the physical grid for months, if not years. So, working out during the substance abuse treatment phase can help restore the mind-body connection and bring plenty of benefits, such as:
- Exercise can help reduce physical and emotional stress. When undergoing therapy, tension will start to creep up in our bodies during our daily interactions. The tension is closely associated with negative emotions, which can affect our relationships. Exercising can tap into the emotional and physical energy that would otherwise be used in less positive ways of coping.
- Dutifully working out will gradually change your brain’s chemistry. Moderate to vigorous exercise prompts your body to release endorphins aka your body’s natural pain killers. These hormones are the same your body used to produce during the addiction phase. But long-term substance abuse desensitizes the person to feeling pleasure as the brain’s chemistry changes and not for the better. Exercise will normalize endorphin levels and help your body regulate (again) your mood in a non-destructive, natural way.
- Exercising can offer you a clearer mind and focus. According to new research, dedicated physical activity can bring the same benefits as meditation. While on the move, we can forget about our struggles, anxieties, and refocus on our own wellbeing and priorities, even if it happens for just a few moments. This is why, after leaving the gym, you feel like your mind is clearer and have a more optimistic outlook on life.
- Exercise boosts self-esteem. A vigorous training session can help both your body and mind recalibrate themselves. The feelings of accomplishment and self-worth brought by a sustained exercise routine can offer your self-esteem a big boost. Addiction takes a person’s levels of self-esteem to abysmal levels and low self-esteem usually fuels addictive behavior. So, exercise can break this vicious cycle.
What Makes Spinning So Special?
From the testimonials of former addicts, we’ve found that spinning can keep the blues associated with treatment at bay more effectively than other types of exercise. Many spin enthusiasts being treated for addiction have reported that they have been working out to lower their stress levels and keep their minds in check and whenever they miss out on a spin class, they feel bummed.
Also, because your brain needs to rewire and change its chemistry to turn into the former, healthy self, a spinning exercise routine is highly recommended in the treatment stage. Having a routine will give you a sense of purpose, which is something that most (former) addicts lack.
You can first try booking a spin class at a local studio. Flywheel and Soul Cycle offer some amazing classes and a competitive atmosphere to keep you going. According to spin fanatics, nothing compares to getting lost doing the high intensity workout on a killer playlist under the supervision of your favorite instructor.
Nevertheless, both studios’ classes are quite pricey—at around $30. So, if your dad isn’t a billionaire, you can spin at home without worrying that your favorite spin bike may be taken. You can buy a good indoor cycling bike online without breaking the bank. The only thing you’ll have to work on on the first few days is motivation to keep you spinning, but once you get accustomed with it, it can get quite addictive.
And spinning has some amazing benefits—you’ll workout your entire body, burn tons of calories (around 400 per 40 minutes), eliminate toxins through sweating (yes, there will be plenty of it), and get an endorphin release that very few other high intensity workouts can give.
Nevertheless, as with everything good in life, get your spin in moderation. If you are already hooked and can’t live without spinning four to five days a week, we recommned a total body workout or resistance training that involves all muscle groups to balance out your training. Also, ensure that the bike is set up correctly to prevent back, neck or knee pain during and after the workout.
But don’t stop here. As you are on your way to recovery, your body will need variety. So, alternate spinning with other types of physical activities that engage the whole body, like running, hiking, or dancing.
Staying active while alternating high intensity training like spinning with other types of physical activity will also prevent relapse as exercise prompts the body to release mood-boosting neurochemicals, which keeps depression and addiction at bay.
According to new research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), staying physically active can increase resistance to addiction among teens. NIDA’s 2009 Monitoring the Future survey showed that active high school students were less likely to smoke pot or cigarettes than their sedentary peers.
In the treatment phase, you’ll need all the help there is for a full recovery. Countless of studies have shown that exercise can strengthen resistance to addiction and prevent relapses. Sticking to a spinning exercise routine can be a strong ally on the path to recovery as the routine offers you a sense of purpose and motivation while helping your brain rewire, keeping your body healthy, and boosting your mood in a low impact way.