Updated: Sep 6, 2022
One of the most common forms of damage from long term addiction is the damage we inflict on our heart and lungs. If you’ve spent years smoking cigarettes, weed, crack or meth than most likely your lungs and heart are begging for mercy. The same is true with drinking, which has a direct, negative impact on your cardio system.
Your heart and lungs are just like every other muscle or organ in your body. If you neglect or abuse them, they begin to lose strength. If we’re not loyal to our body, our body will not be loyal in return. Most of us go years without any proper cardio exercise (Sorry, but running up the stairs to your dealers apartment doesn’t count as exercise).
You have to do something to exercise your cardio system. You have to get moving!
When I first got sober I had a very distinct, high pitched wheezing noise that came from my lungs. It was pathetic and a little scary. I could barely walk more than a few blocks without feeling an ache in my chest, as if I was running a marathon. I would sweat just walking across my apartment. Walking up a hill was so uncomfortable I simply avoided it all together – nothing but flat surfaces for me, thank you. There were times I had to pause and bend over to catch my breath from doing the most mundane things like taking out the garbage or getting in and out of the shower. I was a mess and my lungs and heart let me know every day.
It was obvious that I had sustained significant damage to my cardio system. What I quickly learned, however, was that the damage could be reversed fairly quickly. What was required of me, and of you, is exercising my heart and lungs through simple cardio activities every day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just get up and start moving your body in a way that you enjoy.
If you're brand new to sobriety, and recovering after years of substance abuse, the easiest way to start exercising is to simply walk. Take a ten or fifteen minutes walk once or twice per day. Walk around the block, to the store, or to a 12-Step meeting. Over time you can add a few minutes of jogging and hiking when you feel ready. Or put on some music in your house and dance your ass off (a great cardio work out). But do something, anything, to get your body moving and shaking.
You need to recover your health along with your sobriety. So shake, rattle and roll any way you can, but start today so you make it to tomorrow.
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