Many addiction recovery and rehab centers have a fitness center, gym and swimming pool so clients can get plenty of exercise. Swimming has some particular advantages because it can be done at a pace suitable for someone who needs time to rebuild physical strength and stamina.
Exercise During Recovery
Regaining Physical Health
It’s not uncommon for a person who has become dependent on alcohol or other drugs to neglect aspects such as a nutritious diet and physical fitness. Exercise helps rebuild muscle strength and cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar.
Exercise enhances mood in general, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Clinic also reports that physical activity reduces anxiety. That’s important, since many people turn to alcohol or other drugs to self-medicate when they deal with anxiety.
In addition, the Harvard Medical School has reported on studies finding that exercise improves mood in people with mild to moderate depression. Depression is another issue that draws people to mood-enhancing substances.
Sticking With Goals
Becoming more adept at swimming – or any other athletic activity – mirrors chemical dependency recovery in a sense. Both require focus, determination and practice. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes the person wants to give up. Holding fast to one’s goal and enlisting the help of supportive peers is exceptionally useful for getting through those moments.
Why Swimming Is Advantageous
Especially in the early stage of recovery, individuals may not have the stamina or strength to participate in rigorous activity. They also may be more prone to injury if they immediately take up a strenuous activity. Swimming can be done at a mild or moderate pace. The movements are unlikely to cause muscle strains or other injury compared with higher-impact activities such as racquetball or jogging.
As the person begins to kick it up a notch, swimming provides both excellent aerobic and anaerobic workouts. The individual gets the benefits of revitalizing his or her cardiovascular system while also building muscle strength.
On the psychological side, swimming can provide a peaceful meditative experience as the person moves through soothing water with soundproofing effects. It helps the person calm down and regain composure when stress feels overwhelming.
Swimming as Part of a New Lifestyle
A person in recovery typically makes substantial lifestyle changes to avoid old negative habits and build new, positive ones. He or she needs to fill the time that would previously have been spent drinking or using. Including regular exercise in the person’s free time is one effective strategy.
Enjoying a swimming pool at home or at a fitness center is a superb way to continue positive changes started during rehab. At the fitness center, there are always chances to make new friends who are committed to a healthy lifestyle. At home, the pool can provide a place for fun socializing with supportive friends and family, as well as for fitness and stress-busting activities.