The Power of Exercise Over Our Minds

Feb 9, 2022

The connection between your mind and body is integral to your well-being. Your mind determines how you feel, and how you think affects how you feel, as well. Therefore, the circle between your mind and body emphasizes the need to take care of your whole health. 

Whole health is when you take care of all of yourself, not just specific areas. When you focus on one aspect of your health, you overlook the interconnectedness of your being. Finding healthy habits that include care for your body and mind may seem complicated, but it’s not. One of the best whole health treatments you can begin is exercising regularly.

Reasons to Start Exercising

According to Harvard Health Publishing’s article, Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills, exercise reduces the risk of heart conditions and diabetes, lowers blood pressure, prevents or decreases depression, and can help you look and feel better. Another benefit of exercise is it can reduce the feeling of brain fog. Changes in your level of activity can protect your memory and thinking skills. Researchers discovered regular aerobic exercise, cardiovascular exercise, can increase the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning.

Your Brain and Exercise

While aerobic exercise can positively affect memory and thinking, there’s more. When you exercise, you reduce insulin resistance and inflammation while stimulating the health of the brain cells. As a result, exercise boosts the health of your brain cells, promotes the brain’s ability to grow new blood vessels, and protects and increases the survival of newly formed brain cells. The growth and protection of new blood vessels and brain cells help heal the harm done to the brain by alcohol or drugs. 

Another beneficial effect of regular exercise is improving your mood and ability to sleep. You may also notice your stress, anxiety, or feelings of depression decrease once you begin to exercise. Your sleep patterns and mood can improve because exercise releases dopamine and serotonin, natural brain chemicals that make you feel good. When you were drinking or using drugs, the chemicals in those substances reduced or replaced the production of these natural chemicals. Once you begin to heal from addiction, you can start to heal your mind – and, by extension, your body.

Exercise and Mental Health

People with mental health issues, including a substance use disorder (SUD), are often at risk of chronic diseases because of their medication or a sedentary lifestyle. However, exercise goes beyond addressing physical health. Exercise can improve your mood. Think about the term “runner’s high.” Those who enjoy aerobic activities (e.g., swimming, running, or cycling) not only increase their blood flow but, again, their brain increases the production of dopamine and serotonin.  

When you are active, you focus on what you’re doing. For example, when practicing yoga, your attention is on balancing and moving between the positions. Your mind and body are communicating with each other. 

Participation in group activities like soccer creates a feeling of community and support. No matter who you are, you need social interaction. 

Another positive aspect of physical activity is building your feeling of self-efficacy. You learn to trust yourself and believe you can accomplish what you set out to do.

Exercise and Nutrition

Exercise is one part of becoming healthy. In addition, a well-balanced diet can improve your overall health.  

Proper nutrition and exercise affect your emotional well-being. People who exercise tend to feel better about themselves. Some are more relaxed. For example, if you decide to lose weight and start exercising and eating healthy foods, you may notice changes in your body and mind. When you feel fit and healthy, your self-confidence can increase. As self-confidence increases, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, or depression can decrease. 

Exercise as a Lifestyle 

Do you ever wonder why some people exercise? Or how do they make it a part of their routine? To answer both questions, you need to realize there are several answers. Suppose you started to exercise while in an addiction treatment program. Maybe you discovered how good it made you feel. Your body felt more vital. You began to listen to your body and respond. Maybe exercising takes you out of your head. For some, getting out of their head helps them discover healthy ways to cope with specific situations. Sometimes you may exercise because you’re bored and don’t want to fall into harmful habits. Exercise is whatever you want it to be at any given moment.

How do people make it a part of their routine? Some schedule it into their day. Try getting up earlier than you usually do to cycle, surf, or do yoga. Others find time throughout the day. You don’t have to dedicate thirty or more minutes at one time. Instead, break up your workout into small, doable sections. For example, try fifteen minutes of strength training, barre, weights, or Pilates – or clip in for a short spin class. Even with the busiest schedule, you can find time to nourish your body.

Exercise holds power over your body and mind. You damaged your physical and mental health when you drank or used drugs. While you’re in an addiction treatment program like those offered at Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers, you can discover how exercise reconnects you with your whole health. Our services center on the needs of men recovering from substance addiction. Our locations in Utah provide the perfect backdrop for you to heal, learn, and grow. Addiction recovery goes beyond treatment and aftercare. Your decision to stay involved with our Alumni program gives you access to like-minded men who enjoy participating in hikes, golf tournaments, or softball. Exercise boosts your recovery because you are motivated to be active, participate in team sports, and dedicate your life to maintaining your sobriety. At Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers, we support your goal to replace unhealthy habits with habits that promote physical and mental well-being. Call us today for more information at (801) 308-8898.