As we hear time and again, exercise and physical activity are imperative to good health; it helps rebuild lost strength and endurance, reduces the risk of associated chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and can improve mood. The benefits are widely applicable for those in recovery as well and can boost the effectiveness of treatment.

When an individual comes into treatment, they have often neglected their physical wellness. At Serenity View Recovery Center, we believe it’s just as important to heal the damage of a dysfunctional lifestyle as it is to repair the psychological damage of addiction and mental health issues.

The primary goal of our wellness program is to develop realistic, actionable, and sustainable individualized plans that aren’t intended to cease when treatment ceases. We know wellness, like recovery, is a lifestyle change. It’s not one thing, one change, but rather many small changes that compile over time until wellness becomes a way of life. Through the use of exercise, yoga, meditation, and nutrition, we can implement practices that help our patients reduce symptoms of depression, mend self-concept, improve cognitive function, and develop healthy coping skills.

Each patient has the opportunity to take part in our individual wellness programming during their stay. As soon as the patient is ready, they sign up to complete an initial assessment with the Wellness Director as a first step to receiving his/her individual wellness program. The assessment consists of completing a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire), setting patient-specific goals (i.e., reducing chronic pain, increasing strength/healthy weight gain, improved body composition, stress relief, etc.), and completing the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is a screen consisting of seven movements that help determine areas of pain, muscle imbalances, or chances of future injury through exercise. If any issues are found, this screen allows for proper corrective exercise programming.

Upon completion of the initial assessment, the patient can begin their individual sessions. Session rate is typically between 2-3x/week, always supervised at a 1:1 ration with the Wellness Director, and is determined primarily by the patients’ goals and exercise needs. On days when patients don’t have a session, they are given programming to work on, which can be anything from a half hour of yoga or as simple as taking a walk on the Serenity Trail to enjoy the weather and relax. To avoid over-exercising and to reduce the chance for injury, especially for beginners, any “weight lifting” is saved for individual sessions and is never given as something to do on the patients “days off.”

Before discharge, each patient, whether they participated in their individual wellness program, is given a take-home packet filled with yoga routines, meditation audio links, and any information they need regarding the wellness programming at Serenity View. Patients who participated in individual sessions are sent a 12-week exercise/wellness program that is geared to his/her specific goals and needs. After the patient completes the 12-week program, they are encouraged to contact the Wellness Director for a new 12-week program with progressions to the exercises done previously. This allows the patient to continue improving and working towards their goals, as well as keeping them accountable.

Each program takes into account time constraints and equipment availability. Programs are built around each patients’ access to equipment and realistic time available to exercise. Every individual program is based on the patients’ primary goals and progresses each week.

Again, the primary goal of the wellness program at Serenity View Recovery Center is to develop realistic, actionable, and sustainable wellness programs that aren’t intended to cease when treatment ceases but continue to make life more manageable and enjoyable and recovery more sustainable.

Dylan James, NSCA-CPT, NSPA-CNC, NASM
Wellness Director, Serenity View Recovery Center