In essence, movement is about taking your time and reconnecting with both your body and mind. In today's culture, exercise is typically utilized to burn calories or lose weight. The goal of exercise in recovery is to connect with your body and not to alter it (Danielsen et al.).
Team effort and specific knowledge of exercise physiology and nutrition are needed to incorporate an exercise program into eating disorder treatment. To maintain safety, a professional should closely watch over ED patients. Safety and medical issues continue to be the top priorities for those with eating disorders. An exercise plan should also include Identifying people's attitudes and behaviors and working to change people's exercise habits and cognitive patterns (Cook et al.).
In addition, a written plan outlining the program's rules, results, and expectations for activity progression is another professional method to exercise during recovery. One needs a program that includes psychoeducational, mindful movement, and moderate activities. A program that puts an emphasis on body positivity and staying in tune with one’s body (Cook et al.).
A mindful exercise program is helpful as unsupervised exercise may lead to overexercising or furthering eating disorder behaviors. Thus, a mindfulness exercise program will help control excessive or unhealthy exercise routines and put an emphasis on calming and uplifting movement. A program that starts with small quantities of low-intensity exercise and develops a graded regimen. Both the patient's physical and psychological demands will be considered in one’s exercise recovery strategy. Lastly, nutrition remains a focus as a treatment team must include dietitians with experience in refeeding, weight restoration, and meeting one’s nutritional needs (Cook et al.).
A closely supervised, nutritionally supported exercise approach is safe and may offer several advantages to those with eating disorders. Prior studies have shown that exercise has an impact on reducing compulsive exercise behaviors, reducing the drive for thinness, reducing bulimic symptoms, assisting in weight restoration in anorexia nervosa, increasing overall strength, helping cardiac abnormalities, and improving quality of life. This indicates that including an effective exercise treatment plan in an eating disorder treatment may be able to provide significant assistance in recovery (Cook et al.).
Anyone seeking to incorporate fitness into their recovery plan needs to gain body awareness, take needed rest, hydrate, and eat appropriately before and after workouts, be willing to take consecutive days off, have a good support system that recognizes that exercising while recovering from an eating disorder is quite different from exercising normally. That is why working with professionals to learn mindful movement is a key to preventing relapse, overexercising, and lifelong injuries (Cook et al.).
The strategy will change for each person in the exercise to keep safety and recovery as a priority. Each person's level of frequency, rest, and intensity will differ. Without a rehabilitation team, it can be challenging and even dangerous to work out during an eating disorder (Danielsen et al.).
A professional can help one find techniques to divert one’s attention when one wants to exercise for the wrong reasons, such as exercising to burn calories from a meal. Recognizing our triggers will help us address these issues, either on our own or with the help of a professional. One will learn how to reduce any exercise-related activities that may be triggering (Danielsen et al.).
Exercise in treatment tries to help individuals stay in tune with their bodies. It's not a sign of weakness when one feels that their body needs rest in an exercise program. It is a sign to rest and recover to prevent not only overexercise but injury. We need to avoid placing unreasonable demands and expectations on our bodies if they don't function or appear as they once did if we want to have a healthy relationship with movement (Danielsen et al.).
If we utilize exercise to punish or change our bodies, it can be harmful. Instead, think of exercise as a method to appreciate your body's capabilities and find your strength. A more optimistic outlook on movement is something that gradually develops. A professional can help change the false beliefs that working out is a way to "earn" calories or to change your body into an unattainable shape (Danielsen et al.).
Yoga is thought to be a helpful practice to support the regulation of emotions and improve the mind-body connection. That's because practicing yoga alters the chemistry of the body. By releasing the tension, we allow our body to have a flexible and calming flow once again. This makes us feel better, and when we feel better, our minds are relaxed and can be fully present (Gordon).
Even while it may seem you are alone in your relationship with exercise. You don't have to go through the process of mending your relationship with exercise alone. If you or a loved one wants to regain strength, avoid overexertion injuries, become healthier, and exercise while in recovery call 713-997-9613 x 1 or book online at https://www.jsechinutritiontherapy.com/mindfulmovement
COOK, BRIAN J., et al. “Exercise in Eating Disorders Treatment.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 48, no. 7, 2016, pp. 1408–1414., https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000000912.
Danielsen, Marit, et al. “How to Integrate Physical Activity and Exercise Approaches into Inpatient Treatment for Eating Disorders: Fifteen Years of Clinical Experience and Research.” Journal of Eating Disorders, BioMed Central, 25 Sept. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6154924/.
Gordon, James. “What Is the Mind-Body Connection?” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing, https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-the-mind-body-connection.