Balancing a Fitness Routine With Mindful Self-Care

by Sheila Olson of

When it comes to exercise and physical fitness, overdoing it can undo all the progress you make

running, lifting weights, and doing cardio. Once you’ve found an exercise routine you really like,

it may seem like the most natural thing in the world to keep going, but your body needs rest and

time to recuperate from all the stretching and strain your muscles and joints undergo during a

workout. You’re apt to pull a muscle or tear a ligament if you continually push yourself.

Overdoing it can cause your heart muscles to thicken, which may produce arrhythmias, and

possibly even cardiac arrest. Maintaining an exercise program is a great thing for your body as

long as you build in time to relax.

The right reasons

Remember, you should be exercising for the right reasons: to stay in shape and reduce stress, not

to place undue and dangerous strain on your body. If you’re recovering from addiction, exercise

is a great way to maintain your sobriety but it can easily become an obsessive pursuit that

produces unwanted effects. A steady, consistent, and moderate exercise program does wonders

for your body.


Whatever form of exercise you prefer, you’ll get the most out of it by doing four, 30-minute

workouts a week. Many people have turned to HIIT (high-intensity interval training), a regimen

marked by brief periods of intensive exercise followed by periods of inactivity, which allows you

to get in an effective workout without risking damage to joints, muscles, or your heart. You have

to be ready to work hard during the brief exercise bouts, but it can be a good way to achieve

balance in our workout program. Instead of driving to the gym, you may want to consider setting

up a home gym to do these workouts. Find some extra room in your home in the garage or

basement to set up this space.


Balance comes with rest and relaxation; it’s time you need to take away from a strenuous

exercise program. Relaxation helps keep your blood pressure under control, alleviates the

harmful symptoms of stress, and wards off depression. Take time to do something that relaxes

you, something you really enjoy and look forward to. It might be enjoying a good book with a

cup of coffee. Or it could be doing some low-impact gardening or yard work. Take a walk in

your favorite park, listen to soothing music, or take a nap. The point is, you have to find a way to

work in some downtime if you’re going to exercise.

Meditation and yoga

Meditation is an excellent complement to physical exercise because it benefits mental and

emotional health. It’s a mental discipline that lowers your heart rate and calms your thoughts,

reducing stress and leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Yoga and tai chi combine physical

and mental discipline and improve flexibility and muscle tone. Experts in osteopathic medicine

often cite the benefits of yoga, noting that it builds strength and awareness and a sense of

harmony between the mind and body. Many osteopaths consider yoga to be an excellent form of

preventive medicine.

Exercise and addiction recovery

Exercise is especially beneficial to people in addiction recovery because it reduces the cravings

that can lead to relapses. Exercise is also a healthy alternative to drugs and alcohol, providing a

pleasurable sensation that people seek from drugs and alcohol. In other words, exercise

substitutes a positive form of rewarding behavior for a negative (substance abuse) form of

pleasure-producing behavior.

Maintaining good health is a matter of maintaining balance between the body and mind. Exercise

is key to a happy and healthy life, but so is relaxation and taking time out to alleviate stress.

Don’t underestimate the importance of some good old-fashioned downtime once in a while.