The Facts on Exercising and Addiction Recovery

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We all know the health benefits of regular exercise. From running around in the playground, to working out at the local gym, exercise is a mainstay in the lives of many Americans. Perhaps few, however, know the health benefits that closely link exercising and addiction recovery.

Sure, exercise can help you lose weight, gain muscle and improve your physical health. But did you know that exercise is also a key component in improving mental health? According to Mayo Clinic [1], exercise significantly eases symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Alcohol and drugs impact one's body severely. Whilst in detox and recovery, addicts may feel depressed, anxious and stressed as they learn to navigate a life free of addiction. Physical activity is a great outlet to rid oneself of negative emotions and gain positive results. 

The Link Between Exercising and Addiction Recovery

According to the American Addiction Centers, 40%-60% of recovered addicts will relapse. However, including exercise in your weekly routine can help you reduce cravings, add structure to your day and keep your brain too stimulated to think about drugs, helping you stay on the side of success.

Exercise increases your brain's ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, called endorphins [2]. These very same endorphins are released when one takes drugs. Therefore, exercise supplies a recovering addict with the euphoria and high he so craves in a healthy and fun way. In addition, physical activity is proven to help with self-image, social and critical thinking skills  Many addicts struggle with mental illness, and if these skills are improved, an addict in recovery is less likely to relapse to drugs and alcohol to relieve mental health stress.

Exercise and Substance Abuse Recovery

There are many other benefits of exercise for addiction recovery, including, but not limited to:

  1. Heightened energy
  2. Better mood
  3. Curbed drug cravings
  4. Easier withdrawal
  5. Stronger immunity
  6. Improved sleep
  7. Limited stress
  8. Replaced drug triggers
  9. Decreased chances of relapse


At Avenues rehabs and outpatient clinics, a variety of exercises are integrated into each client’s treatment. We follow the general recommendation of 75 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. However, even just 5 minutes of a daily workout can help in addiction recovery.

There are so many ways to get active! We love recommending the following exercises in recovery:

  • Yoga
  • Boxing
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Aerobics
  • Swimming

Does Working Out Help Detox?

Yes, exercise helps detox by:

  1. Improving your body's overall function and ability to detox
  2. Boosting your brain health and ability to handle stress and make better decisions, and
  3. Increasing your circulation to help you flush toxins out of your system

How Does Exercise Help With Withdrawal?

Exercise provides your brain with alternative endorphins which will reduce your withdrawal symptoms.

Exercise can play a vital role in offering a healthy alternative to bad addictive habits as the same endorphins that make drugs addictive, can make exercise addictive.


Start Today

There’s no better time to propel both your fitness and recovery! Hit up a YouTube workout channel or check out local groups that offer exercises you’d like to try.

Just as these exercise choices will help your body and mind, they will also introduce you to new subcultures and friends. They’re a great way to expand your support team of loved ones and enjoy new experiences.

For more information on exercising and alcohol or drug abuse, or for support and to speak with an experienced addiction treatment provider, contact Avenues Recovery.  No one deserves a life of addiction.




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