Why Movement Fights off a Substance Use Disorder

By January 4, 2022Health
girl goes in for sports at home

Physical activity is essential for overall health. Even if it’s just a few minutes each day, staying active can decrease the likelihood of experiencing mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Getting up and leaving the computer or cell phone screen behind provides the brain and body the respite needed to continue to thrive. If you spend too much time sitting, rest assured you can take steps to protect and reduce harmful habits that lead to substance use.

Inactivity and Physical Health

Sitting in front of your computer, small screen, or television for extended periods is damaging to the body and mind. When Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions began, offices became kitchen tables and bedrooms. Since people were spending more time at home than ever, unforeseen health issues became evident. One such health issue is the increase in physical pain.

The loss of your routine may be the reason you sat for more extended periods or found yourself browsing your kitchen for a snack. Being forced to stay at home also increased how many hours the average person spent sitting or in front of a computer, small screen, or television. The paper Changes in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Due to the COVID-19 Outbreak and Associations With Mental Health in 3,052 Adults found a decrease in activity among those active before the wave of COVID-19. The increased time spent sitting began to wear on their physical health.

A day without physical activity takes its toll on the human body. A lack of exercise shows almost immediately as a sedentary lifestyle escalates pain in your body. Within 24 hours of minor to no physical activity, the body loses muscle mass. When muscle mass deteriorates, aches and pains develop throughout the body, most notably in the back.

Weakened abdominal and back muscles fall victim to the strain of weight gain. Over time, the spine and ligaments can’t carry the weight, creating a dangerous connection between pain and your mental health. You may feel depressed or anxious as you gain weight or find yourself in pain. For many, weight gain even triggers low self-confidence.

Weight Gain and Mental Health

Research shows there is a link between depression and being overweight. A significantly overweight person is more likely to have a history of major depression. The stigma of obesity causes more women than men to feel body-shamed by society, and many who seek weight loss surgery report severe symptoms of poor mental health.

In some cases, you may find yourself demoralized and willing to try anything to lose weight and regain your physical health.

Gaining weight, even a few pounds, can affect the psychological well-being of anyone. Whether you are obese or moderately over the average weight for your height and age group, you may find yourself trying to find ways to lose weight quickly. The methods used for rapid weight loss are, at times, dangerous.

Some examples are:

  • An eating disorder such as binge eating.
  • Natural “fad” diets and weight loss pills lack scientific data and research.

Harmful diet pills can cause damage to your mental and physical well-being. While the temptation to take a pill to solve your weight gain is tempting, the dangers include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Addiction
  • Overdose

Perhaps you think your risk of developing an addiction is minimal and only happens to someone else; addiction does not discriminate. The availability of diet pills, prescriptions, or over-the-counter medications means diet pills are easily accessible. You may be at risk of weight loss pill addiction because many of these medications have euphoric effects. When your brain responds to feeling good, it seeks more. Over time, you will require more than the recommended dose, which creates a dependence on the pills.

Addiction and Lack of Activity

Exercise helps prevent alcohol and drug addiction. Studies show those who have a regular exercise schedule are less likely to engage in substance abuse. When you are physically active, you have less time to become involved in an unhealthy lifestyle. During exercise, your brain releases “feel good” chemicals giving you a sense of happiness. For example, “runner’s high” is caused by releasing these chemicals. When you start taking diet pills, you slowly replace your brain’s natural chemicals with those found in substances.

COVID-19 restrictions also play a part in addiction. For example, your time spent sitting may have increased because your job shifted from the office to home. Not only does the lack of physical activity have an impact on weight gain, mental health, and addiction, but your home environment does as well. The influences in your home can increase your risk of depression or anxiety, adding to an already stressful situation. In addition, if you turn to substances to find relief, you increase your risk of addiction.

Physical activity is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The harmful physical effects of a lack of exercise include pain and weight gain. Additionally, a result of weight gain is the increased risk of depression or anxiety. Some people may seek weight loss surgery, while others may use prescription or over-the-counter weight loss pills. Weight loss pills are dangerous and addictive if not used properly. Those who exercise decrease their risk of these harmful effects because they fill their time with healthy activities and benefit from the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals. If you think you are addicted to pain or diet pills, call Alta Centers to learn how our detox program can help you. We understand the harmful impacts COVID-19 has on society, including the increased risk of addiction due to lack of exercise. Our program guides you to live a healthy life without the influence of substances. We look forward to hearing from you at (888) 202-2583