This article will be the first in a series on the positive effects that exercise can have on the lives of people who are suffering from substance use disorders. Over the last 3 or 4 years, evidence has begun to pile up that exercise has a huge role to play in substance abuse treatment. Over the course of 3 or 4 articles on this blog, I will show as much of that new research as possible and try to explain the various ways that exercise has been shown to help people seeking recovery from substance abuse.
The study I looked at for today’s article is incredible for a couple of reasons. The study was done with the sole intent of defining a regimen that people in treatment could actively participate in while in treatment. If you are a person who is seeking drug rehabilitation in the Panama City, Florida area, as our center is located there, or you are a drug treatment patient anywhere else, this regimen could be a great thing to show to your counselors. It actually includes an example exercise calendar, with a beginner’s level workout regimen, and the schedule itself includes rewards for reaching each of the goals, so it is designed for people in treatment who could be rewarded for their hard work. I will include that exercise and reward calendar in a link here. The research states very plainly that, of course, exercise has great benefits for various acute and long-term problems both physical and mental. Substance use disorders are generally considered psychiatric in nature but often involve various unhealthy lifestyle choices. Smoking cigarettes would be just one example of an unhealthy lifestyle choice that is much more common among people with substance use disorders.
Maybe most importantly, the study I am referencing points to a lack of motivation as one of the main barriers to the adoption of an exercise regimen, and the research was directed at a novel approach to that issue in particular. As you can see by looking at the illustration that I provided a link to, a system of rewards for completing goals was key to the structure of the plan. Along with the exercise regimen itself, the researchers used a technique called motivational interviewing (MI), which involves talking to people about their thoughts and feelings about adopting exercise and changing bad habits and has shown positive results. The design of the protocol is meant to help all patients who are in drug rehabilitation clinics, including drug rehabilitation centers in Panama City and Florida at large. Patients who have been living a sedentary lifestyle might be helped most by the changes, but I will introduce research in articles later this week that shows that all people who are seeking substance abuse treatment can be helped by an exercise or workout regimen, as long as it is advised by a patient’s doctor or medical staff at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center in Panama City includes both a workout and exercise room, and a yoga room, and is therefore well-positioned to help patients change bad habits while in treatment.
By Tim Cannon