Exercise has been mentioned in other parts of this website (read: Buy Yourself Some Time). However, it certainly deserves its own post dedicated just to exercise. It can be a significant factor in speeding up your recovery. Can you recover without exercise? Most likely you can still have success. Will exercise help speed up the process and make it more likely that you will succeed? Also, most likely yes.
Exercise is your friend in your recovery. If you cannot think of an appropriate Modifying behavior (the “M” in the RAMP Solution) then you always have exercise.
Why is exercise so effective in helping you rewire your brain? Because it helps oxygenate the brain and an oxygenated brain is a healthy and high functioning brain. And a healthy brain will be better able to shift molecules around and rewire itself to be compulsion free. Also, blood flow helps clean out the brain from chemicals produced by the Limbic System and without chemicals the Limbic System losses its mechanism of control over the other parts of the brain. The frontal lobe dominates an oxygenated brain.
The brain that needs the most oxygen is the frontal lobe. This is the part of the brain that will help you control your overactive Limbic System. The Limbic System, however, does not need as much oxygen. If someone is not able to breathe the frontal lobe will be one of the first parts of the brain to suffer from the lack of oxygen. However, the Limbic System will still function for a time without oxygen. With the brain stem often being the last part of the brain to suffer from lack of oxygen.
Supercharge the part of the brain, the frontal lobe, that will help you most in your recovery by oxygenating your blood. After deep full breathes (the “A” or Action in the RAMP solution); you should consider exercise to be your next step as a means of oxygenating your blood.
Exercise can always be combined with modifying activities to make them more acceptable to the Limbic System as adequate solutions to TROUBLED feelings.
Exercise does not need to be some complex ordeal. You don’t need to run a marathon or even a half marathon. Your minimum should be somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes of exercise that causes increased breathing and heart rate. Consult your physician if you are new to exercising and if you have physical limitations.
Anyone can exercise; just find a way to move your body. Your goal is not to lose weight or gain muscle, although those things are satisfying and encouraging. The goal is just to get your heart rate up and blood flowing. Gyms are great, but jogging on the side walk works too. Anything works and later down the road if you want to focus on cardio or muscle toning, great, but right now just get moving.
ACTIVITY: Buy three songs that have an up tempo beat that gets you moving. Close the door to your room and close the blinds to your window and start maniac. Go crazy for the length of three songs and you’ll get your blood flowing and your brain cleaned up. Try Amazon MP3.
Exercise is your atomic bomb in the war against the Limbic System. Exercise calms the Limbic System and flushes out its chemicals from the brain. Exercise renders the Limbic System virtual useless for a while, but only for a while. Just keep in mind that sometimes you will still need to complete a Modifying behavior on top of exercise. It will feel great to get the Limbic Systems chemicals out of the brain but if you don’t take care of your TROUBLED feeling that TROUBLED feeling will return and cause another trigger. So tailor a Modifying activity to your TROUBLED feeling.