Last updated: 11/8/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 11 minutes
There are many steps that an individual can take to provide nourishment for their physical and emotional well-being. The mind, body and spirit can be lifted and encouraged with various methods of fitness that aim to help heal and nurture the brain and the body. Taking care of yourself is vital to the health, well-being and improved functions that you strive for.
Fitness – both of the mind and the body – can help you in addiction recovery. Being ‘fit’ in the mind will help you overcome cravings, avoid triggers and commit fully to recovery. Body fitness, on the other hand, can provide you with a sense of overall wellness, stress relief, and can give you a good way to spend your time.
Studies show that the brain and the body are linked together and therefore, physical fitness is healthy for both the mind and for the body. Further, being in touch with one’s emotional or brain fitness can supercharge the health and well-being in a way that no other type of fitness can. Your emotional health plays a key role in your physical health just as your physical health plays a key role in your emotional health. They are combined and linked together by one another.
Improving Emotional Health
Your emotional or mental health is a key factor in your overall well-being. You can take many steps to improve your mental health and to be better prepared to take on life’s many challenges. An emotionally strong individual is more likely to have healthy relationships, recuperate quickly from minor setbacks or illness, and to have better physical health.
Follow these steps to improve your emotional well-being and therefore improve the health of your brain and your body:
- Get good sleep. Studies show that adults need about 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are sleep deprived, your emotions will suffer and you will lack mental alertness. Pay attention to the cues that your body gives and get enough sleep.
- Practice good nutrition. Eating well has long been known to improve overall health but it’s also good for your emotional health too. A diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables as well as high fiber foods will keep you feeling full, can help to maintain your weight or even help you lose weight if necessary and can lead to improved self-esteem.
- Get some exercise. Not only does exercise do wonders for relieving stress and reducing anxiety, it can promote better sleep and it also increases serotonin levels in the brain which will lead to improved emotional health.
- Melatonin from the sun. It’s important for adults to get at least two hours of sunlight each day. This increases the melatonin levels in the brain which in turn makes us feel better.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, nicotine and caffeine. Emotional well-being is contingent upon a healthy diet and these toxins can reduce your emotional health and may also have many long term negative side effects.
Benefits of Exercise in Improving Health
Studies show that there are many long term benefits both physical and emotional in manner when it comes to exercise. Exercise is about more than just gaining muscle mass or losing weight. Exercise can lead to improved mental alertness, greater self-esteem and self-worth, and will increase energy levels as well as promote better sleep patterns at night.
Exercising regularly can have the following benefits on your physical and mental fitness:
- Reduced stress. Exercising just twenty minutes each day can help to keep stress at bay. Many of the stresses in life can be reduced dramatically with some simple exercises such as walking, jogging, biking or aerobics.
- Reduce anxiety. Exercise is an excellent method and natural way to reduce anxiety. Anxiety can cause sleep deprivation, depression and mood swings but exercise can reduce these negative effects.
- Boost endorphins. Exercise will boost your mood by increasing the endorphins that are present in the body. These powerful chemicals are responsible for helping you feel good, reduce pain and have overall happiness.
- Increased energy. Exercise can boost your energy levels making you feel more energized during the day and more tired at night—a win, win situation.
Myths and Facts about Fitness
Myth: Fitness takes going to a gym everyday.
Fact: You don’t have to go to the gym everyday in order to get the exercise you need and to reach your fitness goals. Fitness can come in many forms and you can exercise at home. Ride a bike, take a walk, or swim in the pool—these are all great methods of exercise that can happen outside of a gym.
Myth: Fitness is for young people.
Fact: You’re never to old to start a fitness routine. It’s always important to start slow and to speak with your doctor if you have any other health concerns but you’re never too old to start getting fit. Walking just 15 minutes a day can do wonders to improve your mental alertness and your physical health.
Myth: Fitness if all about pain and gain.
Fact: Fitness and exercise does not have to be a body altering event that revolves around the old “no pain, no gain” saying. Fitness can also be part of the mind too. Exercises that promote mental alertness and brain health can be found in many apps and computer games as well as in books and other media.
Myth: I’m not athletic so I can’t be fit.
Fact: You don’t have to be a star athlete in order to be healthy and physically fit. Brain and body fitness can be had by everyone no matter how young or old you are, how physically fit or not you are, etc.
Types of Exercise for Body Fitness
There tend to be three common types of exercise for the body. Each of these types of exercise encompasses many different exercise routines and activities. They are:
- Aerobic exercise: these exercises increase the heart beat through high energy activities such as running, biking, swimming or step aerobics.
- Strength training exercise: these exercises increase muscle mass and boost resting metabolism through weight lifting or resistance training. Thousands of exercise can be done using free weights or weight training systems found in the gym or in many home strength training systems.
- Flexible exercise: through a series of flexibility exercises, the individual will improve the mobility and range of motion, have improved balance and reduce muscle pain and stiffness, prevent injury and have improved circulation. These exercises include many forms of yoga and pilates.
Tips for Safe Exercising
If you’re new to exercise or if it’s been a long time since you took part in a regular exercise routine, you should be prepared for safe exercising in order to limit your risk of injury during your new planned exercise routine. Physical activity, especially strenuous activity, can lead to injury if you are not used to the activity or if you do not have proper form while exercising so it’s important to follow these steps to be sure you are exercising safely:
- Talk with your doctor. If you have a health condition that previously prevented you from exercising or you have a health condition that has prompted you to exercise, talk with your doctor before you start any new routine so that you can get appropriate clearance. You doctor will be able to give you additional tips to ensure that you are exercising safely from the start.
- Always take time to warm up. Your warm up routine is vital to your safety. You must take time to warm the body up to prevent injury such as pulled muscles or other problems from occurring.
- Always stretch before and after you exercise. Stretching before you exercise will prevent you from tearing muscles or ligaments. Stretching after you exercise will reduce the risk of having muscle cramps and soreness after a good workout.
- Stay hydrated. If you feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water while you are exercising will keep you hydrated and can prevent undue muscle spasms, soreness or other conditions from occurring, especially if you are exercising in hot conditions.
Brain Fitness: Improving Memory
Your memory is contingent on many factors but there are some steps that you can take to improve your memory and to improve the vitality of your brain. Your brain fitness will help you to stay alert, focused and ready to take on everything that life throws at you.
Take these steps to improve your memory:
- Sleep well
- Have fun
- Get exercise
- Reduce stress
- Eat well
Did you know that there are certain workouts that you can do to improve your brain fitness and function? As an adult, we often don’t think so much about the ways that we can continue to train our brains but there are many positive effects that can come from working the brain out. Stimulating the brain will foster continued growth and development and can improve memory functions too.
Your brain is a muscle just like your hamstrings or your biceps. It can be worked and with work it will gain strength. The more you work the brain out the greater the improvements will be.
Consider one of these brain fitness activities to give your brain (and your memory) a boost:
- Visual imaging – pair a visual image with a particular word in order to remember it better. Many people respond better to images than they do to simple words so by placing an image with the word or theme you are attempting to remember you will be more likely to remember it.
- Use acronyms –In school as children we learn acronyms to remember things like mathematical equations, the solar system and other important items. An acronym uses a word that incorporates the first letter of each keyword in a particular item. For instance, PEMDAS, is a way of remembering the order of mathematical equations—parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addiction and subtraction.
- Rhyming – making up rhymes, jokes or songs that help you to remember a particular item can do wonders for improving your memory.
- Chunking items – by putting facts, number or other items into chunked lists we can remember them better. This works especially well for phone numbers, account number or other bits of information.
Methods of Improving Your Ability to Learn
- Focus and pay attention. If you find that you tend to have trouble remembering things or learning new things, consider whether you are focused or not. Often times, we are not fully focused and tend to have many distractions such as the television, other people talking or the radio playing which can all lead to an inability to remember what we learn.
- Try to utilize all five senses. When you are learning about something, consider an image, the words, the smell, the sound and the feel if at all possible. Incorporating as many of the five senses as possible when learning a new fact or item can lead to improved memory of that item.
- Connect. Whenever possible, try to take what you are learning and make a connection with something you already know. For instance, you might relate to something from your past or your present when you learn a new address, phone number or name.
- Get back to basics. Even the most elaborate and detailed learning events and complex materials can be broken down into basic items that are easier to remember. Many people have a tendency to make things more difficult to learn than they should be. Consider breaking new learning down to very simple items.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Nothing does better for the memory than to repeat something many times. In fact, if you repeat what you have learned or rehearse it at least ten times, you are 80% more likely to remember it than if you weren’t to rehearse it.
Benefits of Laughter on the Brain and the Body
Did you know that laughter is actually contagious and that humor is infectious? Laughter is actually one of the greatest fitness factors you can achieve without even breaking a sweat. When you laugh with someone, you create a bond that invokes happiness, health and spiritual well-being. Additionally, many physical changes occur within the body when you laugh and these changes are actually beneficial to your physical well-being.
Laughter has the following physical benefits on our health:
- releases endorphins
- boosts immunity
- reduces stress
- reduces pain
- calms and relaxes muscles
- reduces risk of heart disease
Laughter has the following social benefits on our health:
- builds strong and healthy relationships
- attracts others to you
- increases team work and empathy
- reduces conflict
- improves bonding between groups
Laughter has the following mental health benefits:
- increases joy
- reduces anxiety
- reduces fear
- reduces stress
- boosts the mood
- improves resilience
Just as your brain and body fitness rely on both physical and emotional well-being, your spiritual well-being also plays a role in your brain and body health. Spiritual growth is encouraged and can help to strengthen your brain, strengthen your emotional well-being and therefore boost your physical health too. Faith is can encourage strength, growth and life transformations that do great value to physical and emotional health.
Ways to Stay Physically and Emotionally Healthy
There are so many ways that you can stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. Many wellness programs provide access to all sorts of exercise regimens that work out the body and the brain. Staying physically and emotionally healthy will help you to stay motivated, have healthy relationships, improve your memory and brain function and improve your physical health and wellness.
Follow these tips to keep your physical and emotional health on track:
- Set realistic goals for your health. This may include setting a goal to exercise each day or to eat fewer high calorie or high fat foods. Keep in mind that even minute changes can really add up to big benefits over time. Make sure that the goals you set are realistic so that you can feel the reward that comes from reaching your goals.
- Let others know of your fitness plans. By talking to others in your family or group of friends you will have a stronger support group that can help you to remain on track with your fitness goals. Your support group will help to hold you accountable for your fitness goals even when you may feel like giving up hope or slacking.
- Get some motivation. What motivates you? Whether you are motivated by another individual who made significant improvements in their memory or physical fitness, you are motivated by a particular book or event, no matter what it is, find some motivation and use it to help push you to your fitness extremes.
- Change things up. You will reach fitness plateaus if you don’t change your routines up periodically. Consider changing the brain activities that you take part in as well as the groups of people you talk with, the gym that your work out at or the methods that you get your exercise from. Changing your fitness routine will help you to prevent from reaching those difficult to overcome fitness plateaus.
- Keep track and reward yourself for fitness achievements. Track the progress that you make toward your fitness goals and when you reach a milestone, give yourself a reward. Rewarding yourself for achievements as you go will keep you motivated to continue to work toward your physical and mental fitness goals.