Addiction Treatment

The Role of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

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Last updated: 04/24/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When you first get sober, a gym membership may be the furthest thing from your mind. But it shouldn’t be. Exercise can have a positive effect on your addiction recovery and may help you move from early sobriety into long-term recovery.

Here are different ways exercise has a role in your recovery.

Stress Relief

Addiction Recovery

Exercise can improve your physical and mental health.

Exercise, both cardio and strength training, is a natural stress reliever in more ways than one. From yoga to CrossFit, just about any type of exercise increases the amount of endorphins, aka feel good chemicals, in the brain, giving you a positive mood boost and brighter outlook on life.

Exercise also acts like a meditation, distracting you from the pressures and worries of your life. Once the workout is complete, your problems may seem more manageable and less overwhelming.

Something to Do

Until you quit using drugs or alcohol, you never realize how much time you spent thinking about getting high or drunk, seeking out drugs, preparing to use, and using. Now that you’re sober, suddenly, there’s all this time and you have no idea what to do with it. And since one of the biggest obstacles in early recovery is boredom, it’s important to have things to do.

Implementing an exercise routine can be the perfect cure, filling in the void and doing something positive with all that time on your hands.

Improves Health

When you abuse drugs and alcohol, it’s no secret your health suffers. You don’t eat right. You don’t sleep right. And fitness is as far from your mind as Antarctica. Starting an exercise program in recovery let’s you fix the damage and neglect your body has experienced and set in on track for a long and healthy life.

Meet New People

One of the first things you learn in recovery is the importance of changing your people, places, and things. Exercise and hitting the gym solves that problem, giving you all sorts of new people to interact with, new places to go, and new things to do. And the best part is, these people don’t know you or your past, and they don’t know the struggles you’ve had. They have no preconceived notions about you and give you a blank slate upon which to make an impression.

Builds Confidence

Going to the gym, starting an exercise routine, and getting fit in your recovery makes you stronger, builds your endurance, and makes you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin, something many addicts have never experienced. With this confidence comes the want to succeed and do better, as well as remain sober. It’s one of the most successful ways to make you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing.

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