Exercises Beneficial to Recovery & Overall Wellness
Exercises Beneficial to Recovery & Overall Wellness
Achieving Wellness of the Body and Mind
Exercise and recovery go hand-in-hand; the many benefits of regular exercise are profound, as the correlation between one’s mental, physical, and emotional wellness is deeply rooted within meaningful, long-term recovery. In particular, research has shown that those who regularly exercise are less likely to relapse, have a more positive outlook on life, and have better coping responses to stress — all of which are crucial in maintaining sobriety.
Wellness is achieved through the concentrated effort to exercise our bodies and minds and ensure our mental, physical and spiritual health are given the necessary attention to live life happily and healthily. Given the circumstances of this pandemic, many of the ways we achieve wellness — whether it be recreational sports, in-person meetings, hanging out with friends – have been put on hold. In particular, physical wellness seems to have been tough for many to take care of, as we work from home or don’t get out of the house as much as we’d like. Going to the gym or playing a game of pick-up basketball just isn’t an option for many people across the county, but there are other ways we can take care of our physical wellness right from home!
In recovery, physical wellness is crucial. Exercise can:
Provides pleasurable states of being without the use of drugs and alcohol
Reduces negative mood
Provides a positive alternative to drinking
Improves coping responses to stress
Decreases urge to drink or use
Regardless of your fitness background, working out at home might be new or different, but there are plenty of exercises that we can do right in our living rooms to ensure we are taking care of our physical wellness. It’s good for those in recovery to engage in exercises that have both immediate and long-term psychological benefits or those that reduce stress, elevate mood, and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Though there are many exercises and physical activities that will have these benefits, we’d like to focus on those you can do right in your living room. Here are our top six at-home exercises that are beneficial to recovery — no equipment required!
1. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are an aerobic (cardio) exercise that gets the blood flowing and reduces stress by releasing natural endorphins. Jumping jacks are simple yet effective and don’t require any equipment.
We suggest doing 3 or 4 sets of jumping jacks for 30-60 seconds per set.
Push-ups are a simple resistance exercise that hits every major muscle group. Even better, strength exercises, like push-ups, help to improve mental awareness and promote better sleep. This is especially helpful if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Do four sets of 10-15 push-ups (or however many you are most comfortable with) with a minute rest between each set. You can place your knees on the ground to lessen the intensity.
Push ups (modified)
3. Squat Jumps
Like push-ups, squat jumps are a strength exercise that also brings a lot of intensity to your workout. This movement combines a squat with an explosive jump upwards- working power and speed together. Anaerobic, or strength, exercises are another way to release natural endorphins, helping relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
From the standing position, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then bend your knees to send your hips back & down. From the squat position, jump as high as you can, then land back into the squat. Do as many of these squat jumps as you can for 30-60 seconds (depending on your comfort-level) across 3-4 sets.
Have you got restless legs? I know I do! Let’s put those restless legs to work with some simple lunges. This lower body strengthening exercise is excellent for restlessness and stress – as well as your quads!
Start in the standing position with your feet parallel. Take a big step forward with the left leg and bend the knee directly over your left foot. Allow your right leg to bend with the knee just hitting the floor. Stand back up by pushing off with your left foot, then alternate legs making the same motion. Be sure to keep your shoulders over your hips (engaging your core!) throughout the movement. You can also raise your arms out to the sides in a T pose for balance or arms up overhead for a challenge. Do two sets of 10 lunges for each leg (20 in total).
5. Jog in Place / High Knees
Is it too cold to go out for a run? No need to feel down — jogging in place or doing the high knees exercise is a great alternative to jogging outside. Though perhaps not as exciting and visually stimulating as going for a jog around the neighborhood, jogging in place is a great cardio exercise that
will keep your mind in the moment, bringing focus to your breath to elevate your mood and relieve stress. Knee highs are a form of jogging in place and are a bit more intense but are incredibly beneficial. You can even pull up a scenic view on the TV to instantly transport your mind to a peaceful location of your choice!
For knee highs, jog in place for one minute, bringing your knees up as high as you can.
Jog in Place
Jog in Place
The most intense exercise on this list, the burpees exercise, combines both push-ups and squat jumps to create a high intensity, full-body workout that is guaranteed to get the endorphins going! This cardio-strength combo exercise is excellent for relieving stress and has long-acting effects that promote better sleep and improved energy.
Start in a squat position with your knees bent, back straight, and your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Lower your hands to the floor in front of you, so they’re just inside your feet.
With your weight on your hands, kick your feet back, so you’re on your hands and toes and in a push-up position.
Keeping your body straight from head to heels, do one push-up. Remember not to let your back sag or to stick your butt in the air.
Do a frog kick by jumping your feet back to their starting position.
Stand and reach your arms over your head.
Jump quickly into the air, so you land back where you started.
As soon as you land with knees bent, get into a squat position and do another repetition.*
You can do each exercise in the order presented or mix them up to create your own big workout!
Wellness Week with Herren
To encourage, inspire, and educate on the importance of wellness in recovery and beyond, Herren Project started Wellness Week with Herren — a nationwide, annual event happening every year during the first full week of March. Chris Herren and the entire Herren organization come together with schools and communities across the country to celebrate and participate in healthy activities to help prevent the misuse of substances, empower those affected by the disease of addiction and encourage overall well-being.
Wellness Week with Herren starts on Monday, March 1st — Saturday, March 6th, 2021.
We invite you to get involved with your school, family, friends, community, or workplace! Don’t forget to wear your purple to show your “BE YOU, LIVE WELL” spirit!