We often think about how exercise and fitness benefit physical health, but there are also benefits to mental health. Exercise, fitness, and body movement are common holistic approaches that improve emotional and psychological well-being by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are sometimes referred to as the body’s natural painkiller because of the positive feelings they have on us.
Body movement has many benefits. It can improve anxiety and depression symptoms, serve as a healthy outlet for people suffering from addiction, and increase self-esteem, which of course, helps to improve mental health. At The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center, there are a couple of ways we incorporate body movement into our recovery program. Specifically, it is incorporated into our holistic treatment to offer a whole-person approach to our treatment, an approach that has generally been effective for our clients.
How Fitness and Moving Your Body Affects Your Mental Health
Studies have shown that activities like aerobic exercises, jogging, dancing, and even walking can reduce anxiety and depression. In fact, there have been three scientific developments that have allowed us to better understand the positive correlation between physical activity and mental health: distraction, self-efficacy, and social interaction. Physical activity doesn't have to be intense in order to reap the benefits. Something as simple as a 30-minute walk a few days a week can improve the symptoms of mental illness.
Some other benefits of physical activity include:
Another benefit to fitness or physical activity is that it encourages people suffering from mental illness to not retreat into self-isolation. This is a common symptom of anxiety, depression, or addiction, to name a few, and especially when taking part in group activity sessions, the symptom can reduce greatly.
Fitness and Adventure Therapy
One of the primary programs we implement at The Ohana is our Adventure Therapy Program. This treatment method combines nature, community, and exercise to introduce clients to sober activities that help boost their self-esteem. Clients also learn how to connect their mind, body, and spirit to foster healing from addiction and practice mindfulness in stressful situations. The program also helps clients foster peer relationships through adventure-filled activities around the island. That’s where physical activity comes into play. While experiencing the benefits of putting your body into motion, you’ll also learn to build trust for yourself and others. Building this trust with peers will help build strong relationships and create ohana that will serve as a support system even upon re-entering back into your everyday life.
Some of the activities you will experience throughout your time on the island include might include yoga. This practice helps clients connect mind-body-spirit through movement and breath. The flows and techniques promote relaxation and healing. Not only can yoga improve strength and balance, but it teaches clients how to tackle the temptations they’ll experience upon returning to their everyday lives. You’ll also experience a lot of hiking. A perk of the island is the beautiful Kona hiking trails we are privy to. These world-class hiking trails may lead you through a field of butterflied or to a secret waterfall oasis. Whatever the destination, you’ll experience a unique view of the island's beauty and an adventure-filled day of relationship building and physical activity.
Implementing More Movement in Your Day-To-Day Life
You do not need to be a fitness enthusiast or triathlete to experience the benefits of physical activity on your mental health. It helps to first identify an activity that works best for you, which might take some experimentation. Regardless of what activity you choose, carving out time for it in your day-to-day life is essential. You can start implementing movement in your day-to-day life by doing something as simple as setting your alarm a half-hour early to wake up and go for a brisk 30-minute walk to start your day. You can also try putting a reminder on your phone to get up once every hour, use your 15-minute breaks during work to get some extra steps in or practice a quick yoga flow. You may even select a few days a week to be designated movement days. That could include treating yourself to an extra-long hike a few days a week or attending a group fitness session.
Whatever your activity of choice, The Ohana can get you started by teaching you the benefits of movement and helping you implement them upon transition. Entering into treatment may be very serious, but that doesn't mean the process can’t be an adventure. For a holistic and adventure-filled approach to addiction recovery, we encourage you to consider letting The Ohana help you on your adventure to recovery today.