Exercise for Good Health and Recovery
• Recovery and Health Benefits of Daily Exercise •
Power Walks at A Wise Retreat:
• Not the same as Olympic ‘Power Walking’
• Increases energy levels
• Improves quality of sleep
• Improves mood
• Reduces stress levels
• Builds strong muscle and bones
• Improves memory
• Improves Self-efficacy
Our Power Walks – Not an Olympic Event
What we mean by Power Walking: Re-claiming your own personal power and inner balance.
Power Walks at A Wise Retreat are not an Olympic speed-walking event.
Individuals dealing with addiction are profoundly unbalanced in body, mind and spirit. There are enormous benefits from walking with mindfulness, observing and experiencing the healing power of nature. Most individuals who struggle with substance abuse do not participate in regular exercise. We assist clients in gradually building up stamina through exercise that can easily be replicated once they leave our facility.
Our Power Recovery Treatment Program integrates exercise
as a key part of recovery.
A key part of our Power Recovery Treatment Program is establishing an early morning routine.
This consists of a nutritious breakfast followed by physical exercise. Exercise has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Light to moderate exercise is ideal for early and long-term addiction recovery.
Studies show that daily exercise helps with chemical re-balancing of the brain by boosting endorphins and dopamine. These substances improve energy levels, stabilize mood, decrease depression, anxiety and stress.
Managing Craving and Mental States with Exercise
The natural boost of endorphins and dopamine through exercise speeds up the healing process of recovery, improves mental health and increases self-confidence. It may even help you live longer. 1
There is scientific evidence that addiction and the addictive behaviors share key neurobiological features. Addiction intensely affects the brain pathways of reward, reinforcement and motivation. All of these pathways involve the neurotransmitter dopamine. Providing a natural and easy to maintain a routine for boosting endorphins and dopamine is essential for ongoing wellness and a more balanced mental state.
Creating a Sustainable and Enjoyable Daily Exercise Routine
At A Wise Retreat, we start every morning with an invigorating ‘go at your own pace’ power walk. Our clients are transported every morning to one of three beautiful locations – all located within three miles from our program.
We are ideally situated minutes away from Benicia State Park, beautiful Lake Herman and downtown Benicia Waterfront and Pier. All three of these picturesque locations are perfect for walking, running, jogging, hiking and healing.
There is no pressure to perform. The speed and mileage of our walks increases slightly each day.
Even a small amount of time in nature can have a positive impact on our health. A daily forest bath helps individuals to unplug from technology and slow down. It brings participants into the present moment to de-stress and relax. Numerous studies have shown that shinrin-yoku has real health benefits.
In a recent study, the effects of forest bathing included significantly reduced pulse rate – and significantly increased the score for vigor. Even better, the scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion were reduced.
Zen monks have been ‘dopamine fasting’ for hundreds of years. The newest Silicon Valley fad now called ‘dopamine fasting‘ is just another way of saying we need to reduce the pace of a modern frenzied lifestyle. And it is definitely not advisable to reduce the amount of dopamine in the brain – as we need dopamine for everyday normal functions.
Social Media Coded to Create Dopamine Feedback Loop
Recently, it was revealed that social media sites have been coded to stimulate the reward system (dopamine levels) of users. “I feel tremendous guilt,” admitted Chamath Palihapitiya (former Vice President of User Growth at Facebook) to an audience of Stanford students. He was responding to a question about his involvement in exploiting consumer behavior. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he explained. From Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time.
In Palihapitiya’s talk, he highlighted something most of us know but few really appreciate: smartphones and the social media platforms they support are turning us into bona fide addicts. While it’s easy to dismiss this claim as hyperbole, platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.
Banning a particular reward, like social media, will not reduce levels of dopamine – but it can help reduce the effects of over-stimulation. For those recovering from addiction (and really, for everyone): It is very healing to disengage from dopamine-driven stimulation and reward loops.
Go to a Forest or Wild Area. Breathe.
Mindfully Open and Use All Your Senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy: the medicine of simply being mindfully in a forest or undeveloped natural area.
In the past several decades there have been many scientific studies that demonstrate the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas (some of this research is available here). For example, many trees give off organic compounds that support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system’s way of fighting cancer.
The Benefits of Forest Bathing – Shinrin-yoku
In Japan, shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) is practiced by many. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.
Forest bathing can be practiced in any wild and natural area. Our daily Power Walks transport clients for meditative walking and exercise. Our clients enjoy walking in nearby scenic, unspoiled natural areas populated with wildlife.
A National Institute of Health NIH study on ‘The Physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku‘ concluded:
“The results show that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments. These results will contribute to the development of a research field dedicated to forest medicine, which may be used as a strategy for preventive medicine.”
We Inspire, Support and Empower our clients by giving them a warm supportive environment – and a place where they belong combined with warm relationships. We’re not afraid to nurture our clients.
We listen to our clients because we know that below the surface, deep down inside – there is a root cause for their substance use disorder. Addiction is not a moral failing, therefore we never shame or blame our clients. Instead we teach our clients self-efficacy, self-control, self-confidence and motivate them to change their behaviors and their lives.
A Wise Retreat is a private residential treatment facility exclusively for men suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorders.
A Wise Retreat serves California and the U.S.
Our local Northern California service area includes San Francisco, Bay Area, East Bay, Concord, Benicia, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Silicon Valley, Menlo Park and San Jose.
Our Goal is to restore balance in every area of an individual’s life – Mind, Body and Spirit.
• Our resident to staff ratio is ideal for recovery.
• Our team of professional addiction specialists and staff members treat the whole person.
• We utilize the best evidence-based methodologies available.
• Our staff are some of the most compassionate, highly skilled recovery professionals located on the West Coast.