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What We Do — and When We Do It — Matters

April 25, 2022

By Anna McKenzie

Is it better to exercise first thing in the morning or right after work? We’ve all heard the phrase, “timing is everything.” Carb loading before a big race is smart, but eating a big meal right before bed can negatively impact how well you sleep. It’s important to exercise, eat well, and take care of yourself. But the timing of when you actually do these activities makes a big difference in the end results.

Comprehensive addiction treatment needs to factor in the principle of timing as well. You can be a part of a robust recovery program with carefully planned exercises, nutritional meal plans, and other support structures, but if these components of addiction treatment aren’t timed properly, your recovery may be slower. However, with intentionally scheduled treatment, your physical health and your mental health will both benefit exponentially.  

Nutrition and Addiction Recovery: The Science of Timing

In today’s fast-paced world, our food consumption varies regularly, as people eat out more, eat later, or just skip meals altogether. This makes it difficult to eat meals at consistent times each day, or even the same number of meals on a regular basis. Studies show that eating inconsistently can affect our internal body clock and circadian rhythms, such as our appetite, digestion, and metabolism. 

When we eat during the day also affects our nutrition. For example, studies have shown that eating more calories in the morning than in the evening produces greater weight loss and improved blood sugar in overweight and obese women. 

When it comes to your nutrition and addiction recovery, not only what you eat, but how you eat, has a considerable effect on your overall health.

When it comes to your nutrition and addiction recovery, not only what you eat, but how you eat, has a considerable effect on your overall health. Substances and addiction patterns take a toll on your body, so food plays an important role in your body’s recovery process. 

According to the BC Partners for Mental Health, when you’re in the early stages of detox and recovery, meals should be introduced slowly because your body may not be used to digesting food on a regular basis. Starting off with small and infrequent meals is a good idea as a result.

More emphasis should be placed on eating nutritional foods also, as your body is using these nutrients to help detoxify. Intentional scheduling is important for nutrition when it comes to addiction recovery, but what about exercise?

Timing in Exercise and Addiction Treatment

There is often debate on whether exercising in the morning or evening is most beneficial. However, when it comes down to it, both options have their pros and cons. 

According to CNET, benefits of morning workouts include the greater likelihood of establishing a fitness routine and the possibility of burning more fat on an empty stomach, whereas the downfalls could be taking longer to warm up before working out and interrupting deep sleep cycles by getting up earlier. 

Exercise equipment at The Meadows

On the other hand, exercising later in the day helps relieve stress and leads to better physical performance, given that people tend to function better in the evening than in the morning. However, afternoon and evening exercisers often struggle with maintaining consistent workout routines and may even have sleep issues if they exercise just before going to bed. 

For those who struggle with substance abuse, exercise and addiction treatment go hand in hand. Studies from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) show exercise is a promising behavioral treatment for substance users. When it comes to the timing and approach of exercise, intentionality is key. Many substance users live sedentary lifestyles, so initial exercise should be of light to moderate intensity at best.

During addiction recovery, a well-planned approach to exercise, nutrition, and treatment is important for your success.

Much evidence also shows that brief exercises under five minutes have helped people overcome addictive urges to smoke. During addiction recovery, a well-planned approach to exercise, nutrition, and treatment is important for your success.

Comprehensive Addiction Treatment at The Meadows

We’ve seen how the timing of nutrition and exercise impact both your overall health and your recovery from addiction. Shouldn’t the timing of your specific treatment play a critical role in your recovery journey as well?

At The Meadows, everything we do is intentional, especially how we structure your treatment. Factoring in healthy boundaries and self-care, we’re always mindful of your body and the toll that addiction and mood disorders have on your physical and mental health.

According to Erica Sarr, executive director of Gentle Path at The Meadows, a typical day’s treatment schedule can include the following:

  • Starting the day with breakfast, meditation, and intention-setting so patients can be mindful of why they’re at The Meadows
  • Reserving the morning for the heaviest processing to get into the truly deep work of recovery, which requires great emotional energy and courage
  • Lectures in the afternoon on recovery, trauma, and sexual health to promote learning
  • Tai-chi, yoga, art, and exercise for self-regulation 
  • A 12-Step meeting in community with others at the end of the day to integrate everything you’ve experienced before resting in the evening

Getting the treatment you need at the right moment is just as important as the treatment itself. With our structured plans, our patients feel empowered, respected, supported, and safe as we help them establish their framework for long-term recovery.

Addiction Treatment at The Meadows

If you find yourself struggling with addiction, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based treatment approach and research-backed programs. You can begin the journey to freedom from substances, gain healthy patterns and balance, and live a fulfilling life in recovery.