Myths and Tips to Exercise Recovery
You probably already know that alcohol and drug abuse changes brain chemistry overtime, which affects judgment, memory, emotional states and perception and that these side effects last long after the individual has stopped using the above substances.
Although people tend to think of exercise as just good for the body, did you know it also benefits the brain, as it produces the creation of new neurons? Exercise in recovery is important as it increases oxygen in the brain by opening new pathways internally, and promotes the formation of blood vessels in the brain, builds connections between cells, enhances repair of neural tissue, and generates new neurons in memory formation areas!
This is exciting news as it has become scientifically proven that exercise isn’t just good for occupational therapy in the field of recovery, but it actually has the potential to repair brain cell damage and assist in mood elevation and stabilization by increasing the production of mood-boosting neurochemicals such as dopamine and endorphins. Other studies indicate that it even has the added benefit of potentially tempering impulsive / compulsive behaviors, as it also increases production of serotonin. This means fewer relapses resulting in an increased recovery success rate, which is at the alarming low rate of 3 to 5% to date.
Does every exercise produce the same results for optimum recovery potential? No! The general belief is that cardio promotes weight loss, yoga creates long, lean sculpted bodies or that a local personal trainer will give you the discipline and tools to achieve the body of your dreams. While these statements may hold some truth to them, the notion that all exercise provides maximum opportunity for brain health in recovery is a myth. Here are some of the most popular misconceptions that keep people stuck in dead ends, and more often than not even injured.
EXERCISE RECOVERY MORE EFFICIENTLY WITH THESE TIPS
- Losing weight with cardio: Aerobic activities facilitate burning calories for only the duration of the chosen activity, it also produces a large amount of cortisol in the body (stress hormone) that suppresses the immune system. This can produce weight gain and inflammation. It is hard on the joints. Cardio does release endorphins, so you will have a feel-good sensation, but the negative side effects are numerous and great.
Alternative Tips: A better and more efficient way to go is to change the composition of your body by replacing fat cells into muscle cells through Strength Training. This will further boost your metabolism by enabling you to burn calories up to 72 hours after your training. Strength Training is just as beneficial for heart health as cardio and is known to release massive amounts of mood boosting neurochemicals faster.
- Achieve a long, lean sculpted body with yoga. Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not a muscle building / sculpting activity. The body is composed of 2 distinctive types of muscle fibers that have specific and individual purposes: Slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers build and sculpt the body, while slow-twitch fibers promote endurance. Working both muscle fiber types is essential to build and sculpt a strong, lean body. Yoga mainly uses slow-twitch muscle fibers, and isometric contractions that promote endurance, not muscle building. Performing yoga without incorporating strength training activity can result in joint instability caused by overstretching and a loss of those precious fast-twitch muscle fibers. You won’t benefit from any substantial caloric burn doing yoga either, and the release of mood-boosting neurochemicals is significantly smaller than strength training, which is known to release a massive amount of endorphins, fast.
- Cross training compounds results and saves time. Beware, these types of trainings are entirely unsustainable, extremely hard on the body and have an average injury rate of 75%. Unless you are a pro athlete training for specific reasons, don’t go there!
- Swimming or walking are obviously better than doing nothing and do offer some health benefits. You won’t get the results you want though. For the same time spent, you will see more results and look and feel significantly better with strength training.
Strength Training: The new kid on the block for addiction recovery
Actually, strength training is not so new. Ancient Egyptian and Greek societies used weight training to gain strength and measure power. Weight lifting can also be traced to India in the 11th century, where people lifted stone dumbbells to help overcome the challenges of daily life.
Some of the scientifically proven benefits of strength training include:
- Boosts metabolism
- Regulates hormonal imbalances
- Builds bone density mass (prevents or reverse osteoporosis)
- Reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis
- Improves cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity
- Reduces the appearance of cellulite
- Fights against depression and stabilizes mood behavior
Yes, strength training has superior abilities in exercise recovery by producing those wonderful neurochemicals that makes us feel good and have the capability to assist us in being more in control of our lives.
Batista Gremaud is a published author, empowerment speaker, entertainer and co-founder of the International Institute of Body Design. She is a 7th degree Master Teacher in Dr. Fitness USA’s protocols of Body Design.