Sober Fitness: How physical exercise can help you on your journey of recovery

At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we know how important physical exercise is to a recovering addict or alcoholic. These individuals have experienced a life full of destruction and unhealthy habits that directly affect their bodies. Many of them haven’t done physical exercise in years and are not planning on doing it. At Eden our goal is to show case the alternative options available to a patient and their families. We aim to educate and inspire along the way, we aim to show that your body is cable of amazing things if you just put your mind to it.

Society has painted a picture of rehabilitation centres across South Africa and the world as a negative horrible prison to be in.  It is portrayed and imagined as being a facility with hospital beds, IV drips and group counselling sessions. These resources are present in many centres, but that is only a fraction of what the recovery process can offer to a struggling addict and their families. At Eden we are constantly obsessed with providing the patient with more than just a recovery plan. We believe that the patient needs to be taken back to basics.

Our treatment is simple; it comes from the hearts and the minds of dedicated professionals. At Eden Recovery we believe the basics are vital for healthy success. During the addicts active use or abuse phases the substances cause a massive release of Dopamine. Dopamine is released into the brain and causes a euphoric feeling many get addicted to. At Eden Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre we see exercise as a natural technique to restore the brains balance of dopamine, or the “happy-inducing” chemical. We follow the premise that physical exercise and physical activity can restore the dopamine levels in the addict’s brain to pre-abuse heights. Although the “high” one can receive from exercising is not nearly as potent as the artificial blends we consume, it more realistic, cheaper and long term.

Not only does it provide a physical response but exercise can assist with psychological healing. When exercising the brain focuses on the task at hand, and very rarely drifts to drugs. In addition the neurotransmitter, dopamine, will eventually flood their brain helping the addict with the way they view themselves. It can potentially lead to the increase in self-confidence and their abilities to perform a task successfully. A study of recovering addicts published in Mental Health and Physical Activity, showed that physical activities and exercise can lead to a sense of accomplishment, improved health and the confidence in staying clean and sober.

Recent studies from UCLA found that physical exercise is powerful enough to provide an anti-depressant like affect and that exercise was associated with a drop in stress hormones.  At Eden we apply this knowledge in conjunction with well thought out diet plan and amino-acid treatment that the patients take daily. At Eden Recovery Centre we harness the physical the effects of a well-structured exercise program and use them therapeutically.

Over time exercise is not just seen as hard work but becomes eventually becomes their reality, their therapeutic treatment away from rehab. Mirror, mirror on the wall, I will always get up after I fall, and whether I run, walk or have to crawl, I will set my goals and achieve them all. Physical exercise can be your next goal, next achievement and ultimately your next reality.

-Shaun Pyper, Counsellor, Eden Rehabilitation & Recovery Centre (011) 244 9916