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Exercise for Recovery

Chapter 18: Exercise for Recovery

Section 3: SEA's Tools for Recovery Lifestyle 
Self-Esteem Seekers Anonymous -

The SEA's Program of Recovery
By James J. Messina, Ph.D.

Exercise for Recovery

Why is rigorous exercise an important component of a recovery lifestyle?

Exercise involving full‑body movement is a valuable and essential component of a recovery lifestyle because exercise which is done twenty minutes daily:

  • Burns up calories.
  • Helps improve the cardiovascular system.
  • Helps people lose weight and maintain an ideal weight.
  • Helps improve the circulatory system.
  • Can improve the strength and endurance of the heart, if rigorous and regular.
  • Increases energy and helps people feel better about themselves.
  • Can affect the metabolism rate and change the basic caloric needs.
  • Can lead to an improved self‑image and an improved self‑concept.
  • Can help tone the body.
  • Can help turn some fat into muscle.
  • Can help take inches off the waist and/or hips.

What myths about exercise keep people from making it a regular part of their lifestyles?

Myth: Exercise makes you tired.

Truth: Because heart rate and respiration is increased, a person becomes energized, alert, and awake after a period of strenuous exercise.


Myth: Exercise increases your appetite.

Truth: The immediate effect of exercise is a decrease in appetite.


Myth: Exercise is boring.

Truth: Rigorous exercise results in the production of hormones called endorphines which give a feeling of well‑being, a “natural high.''


Myth: With exercise you can reduce certain spots on your body.

Truth: Where people lose weight is determined by their hormones. With proper exercise people can increase muscle tone in certain areas and can speed along the general loss of fat. This helps the overall appearance but not necessarily in specific areas.


Myth: You have to have athletic ability to get the most out of an exercise program.

Truth: A complicated program of sophisticated athletic activities is unnecessary for a recovery lifestyle. Simply walking an hour a day during time when you normally would have been sedentary is enough exercise to provide balance in your life.


Myth: A health spa is the best place to exercise.

Truth: Health spas can be useful if you need a social atmosphere in which to exercise. However, the type of exercise needed for a recovery lifestyle can be done effectively with no expense.


Myth: Exercise takes a lot of time and expensive equipment.

Truth: You need only thirty minutes of consecutive, brisk, full‑body movement a day to gain the full benefit of exercise. You can do this in your home with your own equipment (e,g., stationary cycle, rebound trampoline, or rowing machine), or you can do it without equipment.

How can roadblocks to regular exercise be overcome?

Roadblock: Not enough time.

Solution:  Schedule a regular, specific time of day for exercise.

Choose a convenient time.

Make the exercise session a priority of the day.

Exercise in the morning before breakfast, in the afternoon before lunch, or in the evening after getting home from work, but before dinner.


Roadblock: The health club is too far away. It is not “on my way'' to anywhere.

Solution: Choose an exercise easily performed around the house, e.g., stationary cycle, rowing machine, jumping rope, rebound trampoline, jumping jacks, walking, running, biking, swimming.


Roadblock: An exercise program costs a lot of money.

Solution: Choose an exercise which doesn't involve the purchase of equipment or club memberships, e.g., walking, running, jumping rope, etc.


Roadblock: It is unpleasant to get all sweaty when you exercise.

Solution: Perform exercises that can be done in an air‑conditioned environment (stationary cycle, rowing machine, or rebound trampoline). Sweating is not necessary for exercise to be worthwhile.


Roadblock: Exercise can be so boring.

Solution: Try indoor exercise in front of a TV or while listening to motivational tapes or energizing music.

Try outdoor exercise in tree‑lined or park‑like settings with interesting scenery and use a portable radio or tape player.

For either type of exercise, get a partner or group of people to exercise with; make it a social experience that will provide mutual motivation and encouragement.


Roadblock: Exercise makes your body sore.

Solution: Slowly phase an exercise program in; help your body adjust to the increased activity.

  • Use warm‑up and cool‑down exercises to avoid muscle strain.
  • Wear the proper clothing and shoes to avoid body strain or injury.


Roadblock:  Implementing a program of exercise takes exceptional effort and planning; my schedule is already so full.

Solution: Your health and full recovery should be top priority. Make time and room in your life for an exercise program. To exercise is a free‑will choice to take care of yourself.

What health‑related benefits come from exercise?


  • Compensates for fat accumulation by burning calories.
  • Helps in regaining strength following illness (passive exercise).
  • Builds bone mass to combat osteoporosis.
  • Keeps the circulatory system operating at its best.
  • Keeps the muscular system supple.
  • Strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory systems if sustained for at least fifteen minutes on a regular basis.
  • Provides a “natural high'' by the release of endorphines.

General guidelines for implementing an exercise program include:

  • Consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. How much exercise is right for you Depends on your physical condition, age, general health, and long‑term goals.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to prevent sunstroke and/or heat exhaustion.
  • Wear clothing that allows sweat to evaporate easily so that normal body temperature is maintained.
  • Build up to the desired amount of exercise gradually; overdoing it can lead to soreness, injury, and discouragement.
  • Select an activity you enjoy, and practice it regularly to get the most benefit from exercise.