How to Incorporate Exercise into Your Recovery

Apr 4, 2021

Joellen Walter, LPC

How many times have we started going to the gym and quit within two weeks? Or we try to start/restart but can’t find the ambition to go? As people who’ve recovered from alcoholism or drug addiction, we think exercise has to be seven days a week, 365 days a year.  We often use our black and white thinking to commit or not commit to a workout routine, and then find ourselves struggling to continue.

Start with clarifying your goal.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does healthy mean to you?
  • How much time do you have?
  • How do you want your body to change?
  • If you have been working out how do you need your exercise to change?
  • If you haven’t been working out what is a reasonable commitment?

Make your gym routine sustainable.

What will your schedule allow as you balance family, work, and recovery? Setting realistic and manageable goals is one way to set yourself up for success. Start small when beginning to work out again. Set a goal of how many days per week you can commit. If it is just two days, then be okay with two days. That is still two more days than if you wouldn’t have gone at all.

It is important to remember, you should feel better when you leave the gym. If you are exhausted, shaking and nauseous you might be doing too much. Slowing down is perfectly acceptable. Just like sobriety, this is about the journey not the destination.

Exercising for recovery is about helping the body repair and recover. 

Balance your routine with weights, cardio, stretching and sauna. Utilize the great outdoors, take a walk with your family. You don’t have to start with five miles a day. Exercise is not a “one size fits all.” Start with around the block or your apartment complex on the days you don’t go to the gym. Exercise can and should be enjoyable!

Ask for help. Trainers are there to help you.

Most trainers are more than happy to give you some time help fine tune your routine. Just like picking a sponsor, watch the trainers interact with their clients. Are they on their phone? Are they correcting form and technique? Are they being friendly and interactive with their clients?

Join some classes at your gym.

Look for beginner classes. Let the instructor know you are new to the class. Remember it is okay to use light weights and not as many reps. Take breaks when you need to. Aiming for progress over perfection makes it easier to sustain long term.

In summary, when starting to a workout routine; clarify your goal. Look at how much time do you have to commit. Be sure to balance your routine. Ask for help from a trainer or the group instructors. And most importantly, remember to have fun!

Joellen Walter, LPC
Primary Counselor, Origins Behavioral HealthCare
Certified Personal Trainer, NASM
Corrective Exercise Specialist, NASM
Performance Enhancement Specialist, NASM
Golf Fitness Specialist, NASM
Level I Nutrition Coach, Precision Nutrition

Origins Recovery & Counseling in Dallas, Texas, made available by a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-671-4124.

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