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Can Exercise Fight Marijuana Addiction Cravings?

It’s well known that regular exercise brings with it a number of positive effects. Even those who aren’t in recovery will benefit emotionally and physically when they incorporate regular cardio workouts as well as light strength training into their weekly schedules. Those who are fighting addiction – and working daily to avoid relapse – will enjoy additional positive returns when they invest their time and energy in working out regularly.

Those who are fighting marijuana addiction may actually gain some of the most intensive benefits of all. According to a study led by Matthew Ruby at the University of British Columbia and published in Health Psychology, motivation is the key obstacle to patients who want to incorporate exercise into their daily routine but simply can’t make it happen on a regular basis. Why a lack of motivation if there are so many positive benefits to be enjoyed? Because exercise requires the patient to focus on delayed gratification rather than the instant gratification usually enjoyed during marijuana abuse. Recovering marijuana addicts who learn to incorporate exercise into their daily routine not only benefit from the health effects but from the direct retraining of the brain to motivate and work through discomfort in order to achieve a positive outcome.

How can you power through those tough first few minutes at the beginning of the workout to get to the positive effects at the end? Here are a few tips:

  • Take your mind off the discomfort. Listening to music, watching TV, or reading a book can help you to get through the beginning of the workout – if not the whole thing – especially if you choose a cardio workout.
  • Workout with a friend. A partner will help you to avoid quitting and stick to the workouts not only once you’ve begun but on a regular basis.
  • Start with your favorite part. Any exercise or workout routine will help you more quickly begin to experience the positive endorphins and other good feelings that make working out so much easier. Do your favorite exercises first to make the hard part more fun.
  • Build a routine that you like. If you prefer playing sports, make that your workout. If you’d rather a more leisurely walk, then make your workout a little bit longer and make that the focus of your session. Do something you won’t dread.
  • Make changes. If you get bored, find something new. Instead of running, enroll in a Pilates class. Increase the challenge by adding weight to your routine or choosing a more advanced class or course.

How do you use exercise to make your recovery more dynamic? Do you find that the new focus provided by exercise helps you to avoid relapse? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

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