A Path to Healing: How Mother Nature Helps with Addiction Recovery

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Article submission from Constance Ray at http://www.recoverywell.org
Photography by Michelle Black
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Those in recovery work hard to create a healthy lifestyle. They want to heal their body and mind. Finding a way to relax and reduce stress by developing healthy habits and coping mechanisms helps those in recovery stay on the path to long-term sobriety. Certain exercises work better than others, and we will have a look at some methods that work well for addiction recovery.

Walking

When someone in recovery has led a sedentary life or has damaged their body while abusing drugs, it helps to start with walking. Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that is easy on the body and does not lead to injuries like high-impact exercises can. One should ease into exercise because it can put additional stress on the body. Ideally, walking for 30 minutes three or four times a week boosts overall health and well-being, and builds a foundation for physical fitness. It also curbs weight gain for those tempted to turn to food during recovery, as well as boosting immune function and easing joint pain.

To maximize the benefits of walking, it is best to walk outdoors. A new study found that people who participate in group nature walks experience several mental health benefits such as: decreased depression, improved well-being and mental health, and reduced symptoms of stress. People who take nature walks consistently also report mood improvements. Combining the physical benefits of walking with the mental health benefits of being outdoors is an ideal way to assist addiction recovery.

Hiking

Hiking leads to improved cardiovascular and mental health, including reduced stress and improved self-esteem. People who get bored with indoor exercise also find that hiking makes it easier to stick with their fitness routine by varying trails and locations through different seasons. Hiking also alleviates feelings of isolation and creates more opportunities to socialize — improving mental health as a result.

Mind-Body Getaways

An unexpected place to getaway is Pennsylvania  with its beautiful landscape of creeks, valleys, mountains, rivers, and unique preserves like the Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park. It is quite the experience to practice yoga in the Poconos or on the coast of Lake Erie when fall foliage is at its peak.

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Aerobic + Mind-Body Exercises

Research shows that exercise effectively aids in recovering from alcohol, nicotine, and other drug addictions. Establishing a regular exercise routine alleviates withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, and depression. The research also shows that people who participate in mind-body exercises like Tai Chi and yoga have similar results to those who do aerobic exercise. Best of all, the studies show that people benefit from any level of activity — low, moderate, or intense.

Some of the best beginner aerobic exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, running, rowing, and dancing. It helps to exercise for three days at a time and then rest for one day. Experimenting with new activities can help determine which are the most enjoyable and will resonate for the long-term. Exercising and time spent in nature encourages relaxation while boosting physical and mental health, making this a very healing combination.

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