Entering a new healthy, sober lifestyle usually involves finding a fitness routine, an active lifestyle, or an adventure-based life that’s fulfilling and satisfying for the mind and body. The physical movements incorporated in our life can, at times, become a new (healthy) addiction. We begin to feel the benefits of using our body the way it’s designed to move. We feel our brain chemistry change after every activity. We start to seek out new movements, and push our mind and body to new limits. Just writing this gets my endorphins pumping thinking about how great it feels to live a healthy lifestyle. We begin to feel the need, like a maintenance program, to keep our brain and body sharp.
With this routine being so ingrained in our lives, what happens when all of a sudden we have to stop? It is inevitable that people will face a life circumstance that inhibits their ability to be physically active. Now what? According to Psychology Today, exercise creates “increased blood flow, which improves cerebrovascular health; the release of neurotrophic factors like BDNF, which stimulates the growth of new neurons; and the benefits of glucose and lipid metabolism which bring nourishment to the brain.” With all these proven benefits of exercise for the brain, is there a way to get the same benefits when working out is limited? Can we still stay as sharp?
Initially after realizing working out is not an option, you may go through a relatable cycle. First you may be excited to have an excuse to just relax. This is great for a short time, giving your body a chance to recover. But then, you’ll start to feel the impacts on your brain and body. I know from experience. When I can’t workout, the first thing I crave is ice cream and Netflix. The danger in this mindset is you don’t have exercise as an option to balance this out for the time being, so it’s probably not a good idea. There are ways, however to get similar benefits of exercise, when being physical is not an option.
Research has found that steam rooms and saunas have a positive effect on our heart health. This could be through lower inflammation or blood pressure. The other factor, relaxation, can affect levels of stress. The researchers point out that these seem to be the likely mechanisms behind the sauna’s effect on our brain health.
Keep it minimal if injured. Stretching also effects stress hormones which can directly impact brain activity. As well as giving your brain and body an endorphin rush. Stretching also improves posture and flexibility, getting rid of the kinks you might feel during inactivity. Check out these posts on stretching, mobility, and flexibility.
Reading gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions, while pleasure reading increases blood flow to different areas of the brain. Reading can also improve your ability to read emotions from others, benefiting your social interactions.
Not only are these fun, and can rid the anxiousness caused by inactivity, they can impact your brain as well. Puzzles increase cognitive function, release dopamine (feel good chemicals) and in some studies, prove to be anti-aging.
At Tree House Recovery, we’re helping men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery by helping men find their strength in body, mind, and spirit. For information on our Orange County programs, call us today: (855) 202-2138