Latest News from Rally Fitness

A Spine Surgeon Examines CrossFit Training

CrossFit group

Every regular participant of CrossFit training relishes the opportunity to push themselves past the usual physical limits of a typical workout regime. CrossFit training experts note that “anyone who comes back to the gym for the second or third WOD will likely be hooked on the adrenaline.” When this intensity is combined with the use of weights and gymnastics, there is always the potential for injury.

Because stories of mayhem tend to garner big TV ratings and internet clicks, the media – both mass and digital – have emphasized the physical dangers of CrossFit training, noting the potential for everything from minor muscles strains to permanent injuries from weight-lifting accidents. While no CrossFit athlete should ever be cavalier about injuries and should always follow directions of an authorized trainer, the physical benefits of this training far outweigh the danger.

In order to bring some clarity to the physical risks versus the rewards of CrossFit training, Dr. Rey Bosita, a spine surgeon at Texas Back Institute in the Dallas/Fort Worth area was asked to give his professional opinion about this issue. Dr. Bosita has lived through a WOD at a CrossFit gym (but just barely!) and his medical training and love of fitness makes him an excellent source on how to get fit without getting hurt!

Functional Training

Dr. Rey BositaCrossFit training is challenging and extremely intense, it takes every ounce of stamina one has just to complete the WOD, and yet millions of people plan their week around going to the gym. What makes this fitness program so popular?

“CrossFit training is new and it’s cool,” noted Dr. Bosita. “Exercise follows fashions and fads, similar to picking the hottest new cellphone. What makes CrossFit so popular is that it integrates training with endurance and emotion, simultaneously. “It will pull from weightlifting, running, some repetitive exercises and it also tries to make the experience fun.” Fitness experts describe CrossFit training as a “functional” training program. What does this mean? 

“Let’s compare CrossFit with a traditional weightlifting program,” Bosita said. “When an athlete is doing a bench press, there are not many activities in the ‘real world’ that require someone to lie on his or her back and push up a set of weights. Functional exercise includes multiple muscle groups in the activity and integrates them in some kind of sport or other physical challenge.

“In CrossFit, there is a goal of exercising the entire body at the same time,” he said.

The Doctor Looks at the Advantages and Challenges of CrossFit

CrossFit training class

CrossFit includes a wide range of exercises and physical challenges including weights, medicine balls, kettlebells, gymnastics, running and others. Dr. Bosita explained the advantages and the potential problems of this type of workout for one’s back.

“The primary advantage is that this is a lot of fun,” he said. “In America, we need more people exercising and if this is one avenue that can get people interested in working out and taking care of themselves, I’m  all for it!

“The potential challenge of CrossFit training is that it is easy to get caught up in the emotional energy of these gyms. It’s like going into a dance club at midnight. Celebrities are there and everybody’s in to it!

“My CrossFit patients who get hurt are not the ones who have been doing these exercises for some time,” Dr. Bosita said. “It’s the person who might have some fitness training background and they get overly enthusiastic and then hurt themselves in the first few weeks of a CrossFit program. When someone tries to push themselves a little too hard – forgetting that they are 40 and not 20 – they get hurt.”

How to Avoid Back Injuries in CrossFit

“Someone who is about to embark on a CrossFit training program has to prepare themselves for the program,” Dr. Bosita noted. “Before they set foot in a CrossFit gym, the person needs to be working on some strength training, some range of motion training and physical endurance training – not just for their back but for their entire body.

“When first starting CrossFit training, I believe they should start at one level lower than they think they should.  Let’s say someone is a weekend athlete and they’ve been spending time working out two or three times a week. I would still suggest they start at a lower level in order to learn the routines and techniques of CrossFit. As with any other sports or workout, proper form will prevent injuries.

Dr. Bosita’s Personal (and Painful) Experience!

If Dr. Bosita sounds like a person who has had experience with CrossFit, there’s a good reason for this. He has and it was not pretty!

“It was probably one of the worst decisions I have made in my entire life,” he laughed. “I won a one-month CrossFit membership at a gym. Of course I went and I got caught up in the emotion and pushed myself a little too hard. I didn’t hurt myself badly, but for a couple of days after this, my back really hurt.

“I didn’t feel any pain at all when I was there, but afterward it was not pleasant. This is why I can offer this advice. I have personal experience that strongly suggests starting slow and getting into the rhythm is the best approach. Don’t just jump in and try to catch up with everybody!”

When should someone be concerned about back pain resulting from a CrossFit workout?

“If a person has pain after working out, the pain should be relieved after a couple of days, especially if the athlete takes ibuprofen, Tylenol or some other over-the-counter pain medicines,” Dr. Bosita noted. “However, if the pain persists and it doesn’t get better, especially if it goes down the legs or causes leg weakness, the person should see his or her physician or spine specialist and get this checked out.”

Do you have any experience with injuries from CrossFit training? If so, how did you deal with them? Contact us and we will share with our readers.

Why a Better Warm-Up Can Increase Your CrossFit Training Gain

In most traditional gyms, a typical warm-up involves about 15 to 20 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike. That’s it. While most fitness experts note that “this is better than nothing,” getting ready for an all-out CrossFit session requires more than this type of cursory warm-up.

Several CrossFit websites noted the benefits of warm-up exercise:

  • Increase body temperature and heart rate
  • Put muscles through their entire range of motion
  • Stimulate the entire body and major bio-mechanical functions
  • Help the athlete practice and perfect basic movements
  • Prepare the athlete (and their nervous system) for intense exercise

Warm-ups serve two important functions. They enhance performance and prevent injuries. As such, an effective warm-up has both physical and mental benefits.

All too often, those trying to keep fit are pushed for time. They have jobs to do, kids to pick up, dinner to cook and any number of other responsibilities. As a result, they often join a work-out session in progress and immediately begin the group’s activity at full speed. This is a recipe for disaster.

Warming Up the Blood

According to Gale Bernhardt, a former Olympic Triathlon coach, the 10 or 15 minutes period before the actual workout begins is critical to getting the optimal benefit of the activity.  She notes, “Relaxed, sitting in your chair and reading this column produces a relatively low 15- to 20-percent of blood flow to your skeletal muscles. Most of the small blood vessels (capillaries) within those muscles are closed. After 10 to 12 minutes of total body exercise, blood flow to the skeletal muscles increases to some 70 to 75 percent and the capillaries open.

“Along with more blood flow, comes an increase in muscle temperature. This is good because the hemoglobin in your blood releases oxygen more readily at a higher temperature. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance.

“An increase in temperature also contributes to faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Nerve transmission and muscle metabolism is increased, so the muscles work more efficiently.”

Injury Prevention


The most likely injury resulting from a CrossFit athlete failing to warm-up properly is a muscle strain or even a muscle tear. When the muscles are stretched during a warm-up, it is more difficult (taking considerably more force) for them to be injured.  While muscle strains can be painful, there is also a more serious result in the failure to warm up properly.

In her article Bernhardt noted, “There have been human studies on sudden, high-intensity exercise and the effects on the heart. One particular study had 44 men (free of overt symptoms of coronary artery disease) run on a treadmill at high intensity for 10 to 15 seconds without any warm-up. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data showed that 70 percent of the subjects displayed abnormal ECG changes that were attributed to low blood supply to the heart muscle.

“To examine the benefit of a warm-up, 22 of the men with abnormal results did a jog-in-place at a moderate intensity for two minutes before getting on the treadmill for another test of high-intensity running. With that small two-minute warm-up, 10 of the men now showed normal ECG tracings and 10 showed improved tracings. Only two of the subjects still showed significant abnormalities.”  

Yogi Was Right

Yogi Berra

The former New York Yankee catcher, , was famous for his malapropisms, especially about sports. One of his most famous was his brilliant, yet goofy, description about the mental aspects of baseball. Yogi deftly opined:

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half physical”

Of course, this analysis can be made about a CrossFit warm-up session as well!

A proper warm-up prepares the athlete for the rigorous activities that await them. When the warm-up sessions are consistent – meaning the same activities are done as warm-ups in each session – the CrossFit athlete does not have to “think” about anything. They can just DO.

Many CrossFit trainers use the same warm-up regimen for each workout session for this reason. This allows the athletes to focus on preparing mentally for what will very likely be new activities, arranged in novel ways.

A Great CrossFit Warm-Up

There are as many CrossFit warm-ups as there are CrossFit trainers. However, following the KISS principle is always the best policy. According to Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit Inc. and the publisher of CrossFit Journal, here are simple pre-workout stretches and activities that are excellent ways to get ready for the WOD.

Samson Stretch

Overhead Squat


Back Extension



Rally Fitness

He notes, “The essential features of our warm-up are that they include a stretch and major hip/leg extension, trunk/hip extension and flexion, and pushing and pulling movements. The combinations are limitless and might include more challenging movements like good mornings, hollow rocks, rope climb, or handstand push-ups in place of back extensions, sit-ups, pull-ups, and dips. The movements used will largely depend on your athletic development, but over time the more challenging movements can be included without being a whole workout.”

No matter how pressed you are for time don’t skimp on the warm-up phase of your workout. If you work out at a CrossFit facility, follow the lead of your trainer and if you have a home CrossFit gym, use these suggested warm-up exercises. Your workout will be better for it.

What do you do for your warm-up? Leave a comment and we’ll share with our readers.

The Fitness Benefits of Keeping a Few Balls in the Air

Medicine Ball Workout

Someone new to CrossFit training might be surprised to see big, goofy-looking balls flying around the room. As with every piece of equipment in the CrossFit training arsenal, these balls – called medicine balls and slam balls – are important tools to functional fitness training.

The medicine ball has a long, colorful history. According to several online resources, its origins can be traced back 3,000 years to Persian wrestlers who were using it trying to get stronger.  According to an April 2015, article by Karl Smallwood in “Gizmoda,” even the father of medicine appreciated the physical benefits of these balls.  “In ancient Greece, Hippocrates considered them to be an essential tool for helping injured people regain mobility and he advised people to use them as a general, all-purpose way of remaining healthy.”

Even the “name” of this piece of equipment is interesting. It was not originally called a “medicine ball.” This identity came into the fitness lexicon in 1889. Smallwood notes, “The word itself is only a few hundred years old, being attributed to one, Professor Roberts way back in 1889According to a Scientific American article from the time, Roberts coined the term “medicine ball” in reference to the fact that using the ball ‘invigorates the body, promotes digestion, and restores and preserves one’s health.’  As “health” and “medicine” were considered to be synonymous terms at the time, calling it a “medicine ball” was natural enough.”

While slam balls are a more recent innovation, they are a variation on the medicine ball and serve an important function in CrossFit training. Slam balls are similar in appearance to medicine balls but are more durable and designed to withstand high-velocity impact. 

The Difference Between Medicine and Slam Balls

Medicine Balls and Slam Balls

When they are first picked up, CrossFit trainers will immediately recognize the difference between a medicine ball and a slam ball and their design suggests how they are both used for workouts.

Austin fitness writer, Jolie Johnson notes, “Slam balls, which are non-bouncing workout balls, approximately the size of a basketball, have a tough rubber outer shell filled with a mixture of air and sand. Medicine balls, available as bouncing or non-bouncing, have leather, nylon or rubber exteriors and are filled with air or sand. Some medicine balls are soft and pliable, but others are hard and rigid. Varying in size from a baseball to a basketball, some medicine balls have built-in handles for an improved grip.

“Medicine and slam balls are weighted fitness tools. Slam balls are available in 5-pound increments from 10 to 50 pounds. Medicine balls have a larger variety of weights, starting as low as 1 pound and increasing in 1- or 2-pound increments up to 25 pounds. After 25 pounds, medicine balls increase by 5-pound increments up to 50 pounds or more.”

How These Balls Are Used

These exercise balls can be used for strength and plyometric training, both are important to realizing fitness goals in a CrossFit environment. Plyometric training, while not as well-known as strength training is incorporated in many, if not all, CrossFit WOD’s.  

A recent Men’s Fitness” article by Lee Boyce notes, “A plyometric movement is quick, powerful move that starts with an eccentric (muscle lengthening) action and is immediately followed by a concentric (muscle shortening) action. Performing plyometrics movements increases muscular power, which translates to higher jumps and faster sprint times. Combining the moves with resistance training is a way to maximize power and performance.”

Medicine Ball Exercise

The two types of balls are used for different exercises. Johnson notes that “because they have a hard rubber, durable exterior, and they don't bounce, slam balls are most often used for slamming exercises such as ball slams and chest throws against a wall. Medicine balls are used for strength-training exercises, such as the squat to press; functional movements, such as the wood chop; and plyometric exercises, such as the chest throw to a workout partner.”

She adds a precaution. The American College of Sports Medicine warns that many exercisers choose balls that are too heavy. To select the proper weight, choose a ball that is heavy enough to slow the movement, but not so weighted that you lose control or sacrifice accuracy or form.” As with any piece of equipment, it is always advisable to get professional advice on technique from a CrossFit trainer before getting a few balls in the air!

For trainers who work out at home and don’t have the benefit of a trainer’s direction, click here for eight, plyometric drills focusing on upper body training. These are supplied by Sports Fitness Advisor.

Have you had any good or bad experiences using medicine or slam balls in your CrossFit workout? Contact us and let us know so we can share with our other readers.

Why Music Helps You Get Physical in Your CrossFit Workout

Listen to Music for CrossFit workout

Visit any CrossFit class anywhere in the world and there is a good possibility that the sound of music will be pounding through the room. In fact, many if not all organized exercise sessions use music as a stimulant. Why?

Music changes both the body and the mind during a workout. According to a 2013 article in Scientific American, “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.”

In a 2012 review of the research, Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as "a type of legal performance-enhancing drug." There are many reasons music has this effect on the human body.

The Rhythm Response is the Key

The SA article notes that since 1911 several hundred studies have been conducted on the effect of music on the body when it is involved in physical activities. Here are some conclusions of this music and exercise research.

“Two of the most important qualities of workout music are tempo—or speed—and what psychologists call rhythm response, which is more or less how much a song makes you want to boogie. Most people have an instinct to synchronize their movements and expressions with music—to nod their heads, tap their toes or break out in dance—even if they repress that instinct in many situations.

“What type of music excites this instinct varies from culture to culture and from person to person. However, to make some broad generalizations, fast songs with strong beats are particularly stimulating, so they fill most people's workout playlists. In a survey of 184 college students, for example, the most popular types of exercise music were hip-hop (27.7 percent), rock (24 percent) and pop (20.3 percent).”

It’s All in Your Head!

Recent research noted in the SA article, points to how music encourages athletes to keep pushing ahead with their exercise regime. “Distraction is one explanation. The human body is constantly monitoring itself. After a certain period of exercise—the exact duration varies from person to person—physical fatigue begins to set in. The body recognizes signs of extreme exertion—rising levels of lactate in the muscles, a thrumming heart, increased sweat production—and decides it needs a break.

“Music competes with this physiological feedback for the brain's conscious attention. Similarly, music often changes people's perception of their own effort throughout a workout: it seems easier to run those 10 miles or complete a few extra biceps curls when Beyoncé or Eminem is right there with you.”

Dr. Karageorghis correctly surmised that "Given that exercise is often tiresome, boring and arduous, anything that relieves those negative feelings would be welcome," However, the intensity of a typical CrossFit session may work against this “distraction” tactic.

The research notes that “the benefits of distraction are most pronounced during low-to-moderate-intensity exercise. When up against high-intensity exercise, music loses its power to override the physical feelings of tiredness, but it can still change the way people respond to that fatigue. The right music elevates mood and persuades people to ride out waves of exhaustion, rather than giving up.”

Neuroscientists have noted that different regions of the human brain specialize in processing different senses—sound, sight, touch—and the brain uses the information it receives from one sense to help it understand another. The SA article on music and exercise added, “"We have also known for decades that there are direct connections from auditory neurons to motor neurons," explains Jessica Grahn, who is a cognitive neuroscientist at Western University's Brain and Mind Institute in Ontario. "When you hear a loud noise, you jump before you have even processed what it is. That's a reflex circuit, and it turns out that it can also be active for non-startling sounds, such as music."

Here’s Your Playlist, Now Rock It!

The intensity of CrossFit is constant. As such, a steady, driving musical beat is critical. Veteran CrossFit trainers also feel that the tune should be at least 130 beats per minute (BPM) in order to get that motivation and distraction from pain working together.

In a 2015 article for Shape Magazine, writer Chris Lawhorn proposed the Ten CrossFit Songs to Help You Crush Your Next WOD. While some of them might be a little more “R” rated than others, they all have one thing in common: They start and keep that adrenaline pumping.

Here’s the list, with the BPM for each song.

Drake's workout music

Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money - 103 BPM
Nine Inch Nails - Came Back Haunted - 131 BPM
Kanye West, Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney - All Day - 123 BPM
Afrojack & 30 Seconds to Mars - Do or Die (Remix) - 128 BPM
Metric - Breathing Underwater - 143 BPM
Breathe Carolina & Karmin - Bang It Out - 130 BPM
Taddy Porter - Shake Me - 131 BPM
Imagine Dragons & Kendrick Lamar - Radioactive - 139 BPM
Nero - Doomsday - 121 BPM
Drake - Energy - 86 BPM

If you think you need a little boost, some “legal, performance-enhancing drugs” as noted above, download these tunes and see if you can get your trainer to put them in music circulation at your CrossFit box.

Do you have a song that motivates you during your CrossFit workout? Send them our way and we’ll share them with the rest of the class.

When You're Ready to Explode, Grab the Kettlebells!


One of the most useful pieces of equipment found in a CrossFit gym is the kettlebell – colorfully described by some as a “cannonball with a handle.” This cast-iron or cast steel weight is used to perform ballistic exercises (those which focus on explosiveness) that have the unique advantage of combining cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

While the popularity of these weighted balls has only recently taken off, kettlebells have been around since the 1700's. According to several online sources, including Wikipedia, the first kettlebells were used in Russia to weigh crops.

After realizing that their constant lifting and swinging of these weights made the farmers much stronger, they began using them for exercise purposes, leading to the development of a weight-lifting sport known as girevoy sport. The Soviet army used them as part of their physical training and conditioning programs in the 20th century and kettlebells have been used for competition and sports throughout Russia and Europe since the 1940s.

Big Advantage of Kettlebells: Flexibility

While this history of kettlebells is colorful, the real benefit of these weights comes from their amazing flexibility in an exercise program – particularly in a CrossFit environment. Typically, they come in weights of 12 kg., 16 kg. And 24 kg. These weights are chosen based on the participant's strength and flexibility.  

According to several online sources, “by their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength. The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work, an homage to those early kettlebell devotees, the Russian farmers!

How Kettlebells are used in CrossFit Training

As with any piece of exercise equipment, the benefits of using kettlebells in training is directly related to the quality of instruction on their use. There are literally hundreds of exercises which employ these weights and all of them can either help or hurt the athlete using, or misusing them. Needless to say, it is important to obtain professional advice from a qualified trainer before starting to swing these cannonballs around!

Many think of using kettlebells in the same way they would use barbells or dumbbells. While this is intuitive, it’s also wrong.  According to CrossFit trainers, kettlebell exercises usually involve large numbers of repetitions. Kettlebell exercises work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks.

This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and but more similar to the high-intensity interval training of CrossFit, rather than to traditional weight lifting. Because of their high repetitions, kettlebell progression should start out slowly to build muscle endurance, support the joints and prevent injury. When used properly, these weights can improve mobility and range of motion which increasing strength.

The Top Six Kettlebell Exercises

There are probably as many exercises which can be done with kettlebells as there are CrossFit trainers and athletes. The simplicity of their design allows these weights to be deployed in an almost unlimited number of ways. However, no one has unlimited time, so it becomes important to get an opinion on the best exercises – for maximum return on energy (that would be “ROE” for you folks who enjoy acronyms!) expended on a workout.

Scott Iardella, is a strength and conditioning specialist, sports nutritionist, former sports medicine physical therapist, and former competitive bodybuilder with over 30 years of experience. He notes that his passion is helping people of all levels get stronger, improve performance, and discover their physical potential. He's also the creator of "The Rdella Training Podcast."

In a recent post on, Scott picked “The 6 Best Kettlebell Exercises You Need to Do.” Here are the top kettlebell exercises this fitness expert recommends.


“The Russian-style kettlebell swing, in which you project the weight to shoulder-height only, is an insanely effective exercise when executed with proper form. Hip power, hip hinging, and breathing techniques make it incredibly powerful. It's a two-for-one exercise, meaning you're able to combine strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one efficient movement.

The swing is considered the most powerful kettlebell movement because it represents full-body power, extreme fat loss, and a high level of cardiovascular conditioning. It's also the foundation of all kettlebell ballistic exercises.”

Next up, Scott picked what appears to be a leg exercise, but is in fact a total-body challenge.


“Squatting is a fundamental movement pattern with many variations. The kettlebell goblet squat isn't just a leg exercise; it's another total-body juggernaut that offers more mobility—the ability to move easily so you can safely train with heavier loads—and improved conditioning.”

The next choice is designed to “bullet-proof your body.”


The Turkish get-up is a slow, deliberate movement that's been around for centuries. You start by lying on the floor, then stand up, then lie back down again in a specific sequence of movement transitions. The get-up will help you with functional tasks as well as higher-level exercises. It teaches you to move fluidly, and when you add the external load (a kettlebell), it requires strength, mobility, and skilled movement.”

The fourth exercise chosen by Scott shows the advantages of a kettlebell over a dumbbell.


“Once you can do the first three exercises—and have demonstrated appropriate shoulder mobility and stability—the kettlebell press is another exceptional movement to learn. While it looks like an overhead press, it's not just a shoulder exercise, as you use your entire body for maximum pressing power and strength.”


Similar to the kettlebell swing, the clean is another explosive exercise for total-body strength and conditioning. The difference here is that the kettlebell finishes in the rack position as opposed to being projected horizontally away from your body.”


“Just to be clear, it's nothing like the barbell snatch, except that it begins with the weight in a low position and projects the weight overhead. The kettlebell snatch is physically demanding and technical, but offers outstanding total-body strength and conditioning benefits. It can help transcend athletic performance to new levels, build explosive strength, and forge strong, powerful shoulders.”

What are your favorite kettlebell exercises? Leave us a message and we'll share with our other readers.

How CrossFit Training is Helping These Charlotte Men Overcome Drug and Alcohol Addiction

News about CrossFit training typically involves scenes of very healthy people doing very rigorous exercises at the crack of dawn. That’s part of the reason why they are very healthy people! However, this immensely popular fitness program is also being used to help those who are not so healthy – people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol contributes to the death of more than 100,000 Americans every year. While intervention and treatment programs have improved, relapse rates range from 60% to 90% in the first year of sobriety, the institute said. Aside from the human misery involved in this disease, the costs to society in the form of lost productivity and public health expenses to treat these people is estimated in the billions of dollars each year.

Most medical experts feel this addiction can be overcome with a combination of behavioral modification which includes both mental and physical fitness training. Some CrossFit trainers are showing some success with an innovative program in Charlotte, North Carolina. More on this later.

What Causes Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

According to online medical website, WebMD “Drugs are chemicals that tap into the brain's communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs are able to do this: by imitating the brain's natural chemical messengers, and/or overstimulating the ‘reward circuit’ of the brain.”

The report on the site continues, “Nearly all drugs, directly or indirectly, target the brain's reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this system, which normally responds to natural behaviors that are linked to survival (eating, sleeping), produces euphoric effects in response to the drugs. This reaction sets in motion a pattern that ‘teaches’ people to repeat the behavior of abusing drugs.”

As it turns out, this dopamine can also be stimulated by the effects of rigorous exercise such as CrossFit training. The positive effect is enhanced when this physical activity is accomplished on a regular basis. Getting someone “addicted” to exercise, in some cases, replaces the addiction to drugs and alcohol.

How Exercise Affects Addiction

In a report on CNN, psychology professor Mark Smith outlined his research on the effects of exercise on addition in laboratory rats. “One of his first preclinical studies on the subject showed lab rats that had access to an exercise wheel in their cage were much less likely to self-administer cocaine than their sedentary counterparts.”

"I was amazed at how consistent the effects of exercise were," Smith said.

The CNN report concludes that exercise provides a "high" that could be important for addicts trying to combat cravings. In addition to decreasing anxiety and stress, physical activity helps increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine, a chemical that's associated with feelings of pleasure, is often diminished over time by substance abuse.

The Charlotte Rescue Mission Uses CrossFit to Battle Substance Abuse

A report broadcast on the Fox network affiliate, Fox 46 in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 14, 2015, presented a real-world case study on how CrossFit can help substance abusers overcome their addictions.

The Rescue Mission has been helping desperate people for more than 70 years. One of its programs is a 90-day treatment program for men addicted to drugs and alcohol. They live in-house at the Mission for the length of the program and while psychologists help them work on their mental habits, CrossFit instructor Michelle Crawford helps them build up their strength through rigorous exercises and weight training.

"I think it give them some confidence in their physical abilities, some of which they've neglected over the years," Charlotte Rescue Mission's John Snider said.

Click here to get a look at the CrossFit program that is changing the lives of these men.

CrossFit physical training, in conjunction with behavioral therapy, is changing the lives of people society has given up on.  Are you aware of other CrossFit programs which are being used for helping substance abusers overcome their disease? If so, Contact us and tell us about the program. We will share with everyone else.