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RFYL Weekly: The role of running in recovery

This Saturday, February 6th, the team will meet on the grounds at the GRCR facility (13 Hell Gate Circle, NY, NY 10035). The workout session will begin at 9 am (weather permitting), going west towards the 103rd Street bridge and then continuing to Icahn Stadium to complete a 5-mile loop on the Randall’s Island pathway. The weather forecast reports temperatures in the low 40s with sunny skies; please, dress accordingly covering all your extremities hands, head, and ears. All participants are to actively follow the CDC guidelines at all times, which state that face masks must be worn at all times and to adhere to social distance protocol.

Is Running the Secret to Overcoming Addiction?

by Lucas Fernandez

Anyone who has first-hand experience with Substance Use Disorder knows the toll it can take on emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. In the earliest stages of treatment, you will likely learn how to identify cravings and develop healthy coping mechanisms to stress. For some, these coping mechanisms include the cultivation of hobbies or social support groups. Often, people overcoming addiction find solace in physical and recreational activity, such as running.

Can Physical Activity Help You Overcome Addiction?

Though many individuals who have been through the experience themselves will tell you that participating in physical activity does control cravings, this is also supported by a promising evidence base. Animal studies have found that participating in regular swimming reduces voluntary consumption of morphine in rats dependent on opioids. Additionally, providing cocaine-dependent rats with an exercise wheel decreased the amount of self-administration.

In humans, a small study of 38 men with various substance use disorders were instructed to participate in group exercise classes 3 times a week for up to 6 months. Of the 20 members who completed the intervention, 15 reported decreased substance use or total abstinence 1 year later.

Many individuals who experience substance use disorders find solace in physical activity. There are a few possible reasons for this. One is that workouts provide a much-needed element of structure. Exercise clubs offer opportunities for positive social connection and can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, common comorbidities for substance use disorders.

Click here to read one woman’s story of how running saved her from meth addiction.

Coach Andre’s tips:

I, too, can identify with the runner’s high remedy to addiction that I found in long-distance running. The crazy thing about it is that I wasn’t looking to run as a cure for my addiction, it just happened. I did want to exercise and maintain a certain level of fitness but when I added running along to my exercise routine, it took my recovery to another level.

I started running with a purpose when I was incarcerated and I continued to run when I got to treatment in 1998. Nearly 22 years later and I haven’t ever stopped running. I credit my success in recovery to having a concrete opportunity to feel good about myself each time I go for a run. If I miss more than 2 days of running, my body lets me know and it forces me to satisfy my runner’s high craving.

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