Facts about exercise and addiction recovery

12 Apr

Everyone’s recovery experience is different, but one thing is for sure: exercise helps. Whether you were active before your rehab treatment or you’ve never exercised before, making it an integral part of the recovery process has been proven to benefit in more ways than one. Studies have shown that exercise can lead to an increase in self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment and a strengthened ability to stay sober.

Exercise is an outlet for anger

Recovering addicts often have trouble dealing with anger, and because of their addiction, they may have struggled to express these emotions in a healthy way. Exercises such as weightlifting, boxing and running can be a great outlet for any anger you may be feeling so there’s less chance of you relapsing.

An active lifestyle helps you weather a crisis

If you’re in recovery, it’s common sometimes to feel overwhelmed and that you’re unable to cope without addictive substances. By making exercise your addiction, and you’ll reduce stress and regain the composure you need to get through. It’s good to have something healthy to fall back on when you encounter a rough period.

You can build up your self-confidence

The more you exercise, the better you’ll get, and in turn, you’ll gain an incredible boost in self-confidence. To begin, try being active for 10-15 minutes at a time and gradually increase this to an hour with more intensity. As you start to see the physical benefits of your efforts you’re bound to feel mentally stronger to deal with the challenges that will come in your recovery.

You’ll get a better night’s sleep

An addiction can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and make it incredibly difficult to sleep without the drug. During your recovery process, your body will start to become healthier and regular exercise can help you to recover a sense of balance more quickly. Your body will also heal faster when it is well-rested.

Popular post-rehab exercises

Physical activity gives us a rush of natural ‘happiness-inducing’ chemicals like dopamine so the more you exercise, the more you’ll get of it. However, different exercises benefit the mind and body differently.


It’s not uncommon for rehab centres to encourage the practice of yoga. This is because it’s an exercise that focuses on strengthening the body while practising mindful meditation to help reduce any anxiety and stress that could eventually trigger a relapse.


Walking in the great outdoors can also boost your dopamine levels. If you’re ever struggling with a craving, take a 15-minute brisk walk to help stave it off.

Team Sports

Getting together with friends to play a team sport can help you strengthen your relationships without the need for alcohol or drugs. If you’re feeling particularly confident, join a new team to help you integrate back into society.

Strength Training

Many people believe that cardio exercises and lifting weights can help combat issues such as insomnia, anxiety and depression.