walking_sign45171The idea of getting up off the couch was sometimes too much for me in the first   few weeks of sobriety. In fact, the extent of any physical exercise I did was to walk to the bus stop to get to a recovery meeting (having had my drivers license revoked). Once I was there, I’d settle in with a big cup of coffee and proceed to chainsmoke throughout the meeting, immediately lighting up afterwards on the porch outside the AA  club.  People only had to mention the idea of quitting smoking and I’d feel my blood pressure rise. I took pleasure in responding that they’d have to pry the cigarettes from my cold, dead hand and that quitting drinking was all I could do right now. And it really was.  At this point in my sobriety, my life was all about not drinking, looking after my son, going to meetings, meeting with my sponsor, reading the big book, going to work and smoking as much as I could in between. 

 After a few months in recovery, someone mentioned that a bit of exercise might  not be a bad idea. It would help clear the cobwebs out of my head and possibly  help me with sleeping. After my initial horror at the idea, I decided to try walking  in the local park – at first I thought I must have been born with only one lung    because there was no way I was operating like a person who had two – that thought was followed by me coughing up something that looked like it could be part of the only lung I had. I felt deflated and very unfit, so I walked home and had a cigarette.  

I didn’t give up though, I repeated this form of torture again and I’d go for walks in the park and stop for a break on a bench and have a cigarette. I enjoyed being outside in the fresh air (well it was fresh before I blew smoke into it) I was able to think clearer and I actually got some color in my cheeks. People were going about their business and I felt like I was part of the world instead of isolated and alone which was how I usually felt. 

It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend (who didn’t smoke and was a runner) that I decided to take the walking further and try running.  It took only ten seconds of running (he had a stopwatch) before I was doubled over, wheezing and gasping for breath. I wasn’t going to give up though because I had my trusty nicotine patch – which I wore for about a year (I’m pretty sure that’s not recommended), but slowly as I reduced the amount I smoked, my desire for exercise increased because I was feeling better physically and therefore able to do more.  

Physical activity may have been the last thing I felt like doing in early recovery, but the truth is, it really did help me. Taking 15 or 30 minutes to break the monotony of my day, being outside, throwing a frisbee or walking in the park lifted my mood in ways that I never could have expected.  These days, I try to include exercise as a regular part of my routine, just as my recovery is. It’s all about progress not perfection and seeing myself run might be progress, but it’s pretty bloody funny too.

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Comments
  1. […] This was a dirty word for me early on (see what I mean here) but the truth is, even a little exercise can help with sleeping and improving our mood in general. […]

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