Zone One Exercise for Addiction Recovery


Exercise is an important part of our life here at Marbella Secondary Care. We wake up every morning at 7am, eat a nutritious breakfast and then start our day with some adrenaline boosting exercise. 

During active addiction you will have used and abused your body, and even after primary treatment where you may have conquered your immediate need for drugs and alcohol, your physical health may still be at an all time low. 

Feeling unhappy in your body and unable to meet the physical demands of your day can lead to low moods and ultimately to relapse. 

We believe that instilling a mindset whereby you wake up in the morning and take some time to exercise before you start the day will enable you, not only to be physically fitter and healthier, but also to have a clearer and healthier mind and happier mood. We understand that many of you may live stressful and busy lives and often don’t believe you have time to exercise in the mornings. We want to challenge that way of thinking by showing you that it is possible to fit in regular exercise before you go to work in the morning. Whilst we show you how, we will also convince you of the benefits of doing so: 

Stress Reduction:

Often one of the reasons an addict turned to alcohol or drugs in the first place was to relieve stress. The result being that they have to use more and more of the substance to relieve the stress that they feel they are under. Eventually their ability to relieve stress using a substance disappears and their dependance on the substance results in creating an ever increasing level of stress in their lives. This is often when they seek help for addiction. However, removing the substance from their lives will not remove the original feelings of stress and the reasons they sought relief in the first place. In order to maintain a long lasting recovery other tools will need to be put in place to help reduce stress in the addicts life. Here at Marbella Secondary Care, we firmly believe in the stress reducing effects of exercise. Regular exercise has been proven to alleviate both long and short term levels of stress in the human system. During exercise chemicals are released which combat stress. We aim to develop with our clients an achievable exercise routine which they can continue every day, long after they leave our care. 

Reduces cravings:

Primary treatment will help you stop using drugs or alcohol for the time you are in treatment, and provide you will some very useful tools for dealing with cravings in the outside world. However, it is inevitable that you will experience cravings when you are faced with life’s continuous triggers and stresses. Developing a regular exercise routine can help you reduce these cravings by changing the neural pathways in your brain and ultimately re-teaching yourself that you want to live a healthier life. 

Counteracts the damage done to your brain through drug and alcohol use:

Long term substance abuse will inevitable have had certain damaging effects on your brain. A study done at the University of Colorado found that an individual who regularly exercised was able to protect and repair the brain from this kind of damage. This is because exercise creates a compound in the body called BDNF which stimulates growth of nerve cells and their connections. 

Increased Energy:

Exercise boosts oxygen levels which in turn increase the amount of energy you feel you have in your body. As you become more physically fit and healthier, the easier you will find it to undertake tasks you previous found a challenge. You will be more efficient and therefore use less energy to do certain things, enabling you to be more productive. Life can be demanding and often feel overwhelming in early recovery. This is why introducing an exercise routine in early recovery can go a long way to help the recovering addict feel less overwhelmed and mange the demands their daily life may throw at them. 

Improved Mood:

It is completely normal for mood levels to be unstable in early recovery. One moment you will be floating along on a pink fluffy cloud, and the next totally despairing. Overtime these mood swings will lessen, but a great way to stabilise your mood in early recovery is through exercise. During exercise your body will release a chemical called endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain to trigger a positive feeling very similar to the feeling you will have been seeking with your drug and alcohol abuse. When you remove the substances from your system, you will be looking to replace them with something. Exercise can be a healthy way of reintroducing that euphoric feeling you once found in drugs and alcohol. 

Better Sleep:

Sleep is extremely important for us at Marbella Secondary Care. We understand that after an extended period of drug abuse, even after a stay at a primary care facility, your sleep may still be disturbed and sporadic. This is why we do our utmost to ensure that by the time you leave us, you will have settled in to a regular pattern of good quality sleep. We utilise many tools to ensure this happens, one of them being exercise. One of the ways exercise is known to improve sleep is by changing the body’s temperature. After exercise, your body’s temperature is at its highest. It is at its lowest whilst you’re asleep. Hours after exercise your body will start cooling at a rate that is faster than usual. This change in your body’s ability to cool down faster enables you to get to sleep easier than you would have not having exercised. This change in your body’s biochemistry make take a few weeks to really become pronounced so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a perfect night’s sleep after just a couple of days of exercise. You will get there with perseverance and commitment.