Exercise & Alcohol-Free Living
We already know that exercise has tons of health benefits, but how does it help as we pursue an alcohol-free life? Exercise and movement are very powerful tools for battling the drinking habits and helping us remain alcohol-free, and there’s actually lots of science to prove it.
How Exercise Fights Addiction + Aids in Alcohol-Free Life:
Distraction from cravings: exercise is a great cravings buster. When we’re in a craving state, it’s often because our bodies are seeking a quick change of our physical or emotional state. If we’re feeling stressed, exercise helps to expel some of that energy. If we’re feeling bored, exercise makes time fly.
Structure: so much of habitual drinking is just that; habit. If opening a bottle of wine when you get home from work is part of routine, try swapping out an afternoon yoga class when you clock out. Exercising at the same time daily is helpful in restructuring your routine with positive habits.
Brain regeneration: Exercise literally helps to rebuild your brain! Alcohol has numerous detrimental effects on both the function and physical structure of the brain, and we can repair this through neuroplasticity. Exercise gives neuroplasticity a boost, creating new neurons and brain cells through a process called neurogenesis. Simply put, this helps improve cognition, memory, focus, and so much more.
Dopamine: we’ve talked a lot about this little neurochemical, but it’s so integral to the science of addiction. Exercise floods our brains with dopamine, the feel-good stuff, just like alcohol does. These natural dopamine surges are helpful for our mental health, cravings, and ability to heal our brains after we remove alcohol.
Helps depression and anxiety: because of this increase in dopamine, exercise is very helpful in treating depression and anxiety. Mood disorders and addiction are often a “chicken or the egg” scenario -- it can be tricky to figure out which one came first for man -- but they are incredibly intertwined. Exercise is a natural way to address these mental health issues, which are known to exacerbate alcohol use.