How Physical Activity Affects the Brain

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Most people know or understand that physical activity is good for our bodies. Regular physical activity can have positive impacts on our bodies and mental health, so learning ways to incorporate it into your everyday life is important. There is evidence that explains why physical activity is such a benefit to daily life, and this is why, at Pathways Recovery Center, we believe prioritizing daily physical activity can be crucial to your recovery. It is important to know that physical activity alone can not maintain overall wellness, but it certainly can be an extremely helpful piece to your overall health. 

Ways Physical Activity Affects Our Brains

At Pathways Recovery Center, we treat a variety of mental health diagnoses while you are on your recovery journey from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Throughout your time in treatment, you can learn new ways to navigate life in healthy ways that bring you joy. One of the ways we assist in treating you is with the help of practicing physical activity. 

Utilizing daily physical activity can improve your mental health and physical health. One way physical activity can improve your mental health includes stress management. Having a safe space to move your body in ways you enjoy can lower stress because it releases serotonin. Serotonin plays a role in sending signals throughout our bodies. These signals contribute to your mood. An example of lowering stress through physical activity could include channeling difficult emotions while you are physically active.

Moving our bodies with physical activity also releases dopamine. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter in our brain. A lack of dopamine can even cause disorders such as depression. Physical activity can be a natural way to get more dopamine and thus improves your mood. At Pathways Recovery Center, we recognize physical activity as a holistic therapy that is an important part of the treatment process. In combination with other therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), we believe physical activity is a crucial piece to your recovery.

Your Mind and Body Work Together

We know and understand that, at times, it can feel like our minds and bodies are working against each other. We also know daily physical activity can help reduce that feeling. While the guidelines of how much physical activity we need vary, there are multiple ways you can incorporate physical activity into your day. 

Some examples of physical activity include:

  • Biking
  • Yoga
  • Cardio exercises
  • Swimming
  • Stretching

We understand at Pathways Recovery Center that not everyone enjoys the idea of running for an hour every day or lifting weights. While both of those can be good options for some, they aren't the only ones. When a conversation about physical activity comes up, there can be stereotypes or even misinformation involved. It's important to keep in mind that everyone's body is different, and we all have different capabilities. Pushing yourself too hard or in ways that do not feel good to you can be dangerous, so mindfulness is important too.

Remember, physical activity does not necessarily mean performing a rigorous exercise plan every day. While having time in your day for physical activity can be enjoyable, some may struggle with motivation. When we feel unmotivated, we can spiral into other negative thoughts. Genetics can also have an effect on our minds and bodies, which can factor into our desire to incorporate physical activity into our day or not.

Prioritizing Physical Activity

There are numerous ways you can get your body moving that you may want to consider if the idea of a specific exercise routine doesn't appeal to you. Figuring out what physical activities you like can be a journey in itself. There are a variety of sports and activities you can try in groups as well. Joining a sports club at an activity center could be a great option. This can be a fun way to meet new people and socialize too.

Trying new activities and sports in a group setting may seem scary for some. Including a friend or family member could help you to feel more comfortable if needed. Whether you are physically active alone or with others, it's key to prioritize physical activity in your everyday life.

Some ways you can make physical activity a priority could include setting a schedule you follow. Sitting down and looking over your schedule can be a good place to start. From there, you can decide where physical activity fits best. If you struggle with motivation, reminding yourself of the facts can be helpful. You may not feel like you want to be physically active at first, but over time, physical activity can feel like it's just another part of your daily routine. It may even become a time of the day you look forward to.

Daily physical activity can have positive effects on our minds and bodies. We believe in utilizing regular physical activity throughout your recovery from substance use because of the many benefits it can provide. Physical activity does not have to be an hour of your day that you dread. There are many different ways you can move your body. Finding physical activities you enjoy could essentially bring more time to your day that you look forward to. It is also important that you practice mindfulness as you move your body. We know physical activity can help our bodies, but it can help our mental health as well. Please call (888) 771-0966 for additional information today. 

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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Pathways Recovery Center Believes That Anyone Suffering From Addiction Can Recover And Experience The Joy Of Life Again. Join Us In Fighting Addiction One Person At A Time.
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