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The Benefits of Exercise for Your Sobriety

You’ve probably heard of the benefits of exercise from doctors before, but did you know that regular exercise can help you stay sober? There are several studies that show the relationship between exercise and addiction recovery. Many treatment programs also recommend exercise, including RECO Intensive. There are many ways that exercise can improve our mind and body, and you’d be surprised how much exercise can help you with sobriety. Here are some ways exercise helps:

Help You Feel Grounded

In a previous article, we covered ten ways to have fun in recovery, and we listed “Getting in Touch with Your Body” as number two. Getting back in touch with your body in a positive way is extremely important. Feeling rooted though feeling present can help problems feel more manageable. Exercise can make you feel grounded, clear-headed, and present. 

Reduce Cravings

Exercising can be beneficial to reducing cravings for cannabis, opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine. Research has shown that keeping a consistent exercise regimen can increase abstinence from substances. 

Improve Your Mood

Even if you have been sober for years, it doesn’t mean that negative feelings just “go away.” You might still feel those low moods from time to time. Exercise can help with that too. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which can produce feelings like euphoria and happiness. Working out and staying active can also improve your self-image. By exercising, you can feel in control of the way your body looks and feels and that can feel fantastic. 

Relieve Stress

Not only have studies shown that exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, but it can also reduce stress. Reducing stress is extremely important as stress is a common trigger for relapse. Exercise can be an amazing, healthy alternative for stress relief.  When you exercise in a way that increases your heart rate, your body releases chemicals, like serotonin, that can combat stress. 

Reduce Health Risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Even if you have diabetes, staying active can control blood glucose levels. Addiction can negatively affect the immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases, but exercise also improves the immune system. By increasing your heart rate, your body is able to better distribute important nutrients and improve your overall health.

Improve Sleep 

In early recovery, it can be hard to keep a decent sleep schedule. You might feel sluggish or want to nap, and this can make it difficult to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Regular exercise has been proven to improve sleep. Relapse can sometimes be caused by fatigue, a symptom of lack of sleep. Exercising not only can help you keep a consistent sleep schedule, but it can also help you stay more alert during the day. It’s important to remember not to exercise too close to bedtime as you might have too much energy to fall asleep. If you plan to work out during the evening, try scheduling it no later than an hour before bedtime.

Give You Reason to Socialize

Since so many ways of exercising can be done with others, this can be a great way to interact with others face-to-face. While face-to-face interaction can be difficult during COVID-19, socializing is crucial to recovery and sobriety. Plenty of sports and active hobbies have vast online communities to join. It also might help to invite someone in your COVID-19 bubble to exercise with you.  

Exercise Is Self-Care

Regular exercise is a form of self-care. Moving your body is taking care of your body. When you have experienced addiction, you might not have cared about your body. It’s common for people struggling with drug abuse to put their health on the back burner. During sobriety, self-care is important because you’re important. Your body is the only one you have.

How Much Exercise Is Recommended?

If you’re new to regular exercise, it’s important not to over-exert yourself in the beginning. Doctors recommend thirty minutes of vigorous exercise a day, but that is a tough goal if you’re normally sedentary. It’s better to start small and work up to a daily goal. If your starting point is three days a week, that’s completely okay!

Exercise Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

Maybe you might be turned off by exercise because it doesn’t seem exciting. However, there are plenty of fun ways to get your body moving. If going to the gym and running on a treadmill isn’t your thing, maybe give yoga a shot! Try hiking in the park! Have a dance session in front of your T.V. Find a silly exercise video on Youtube. The possibilities are endless.

Your physical and mental well-being is critical to sobriety. Taking care of yourself by staying active is a great way to improve both your mental health as well as physical health. Starting an exercise routine might take work and it can be hard to feel motivated. However, the benefits outweigh the challenges and if you set the right goals, you’ll be exercising regularly in no time and thanking yourself for it. Reaching out to a friend or a family member for support can help with motivation as well. Physical activity can help you heal your body, stay in shape, build self-confidence and love yourself. At RECO Intensive, we care about your health and recommend exercise after treatment as a way to stay on track. For more information, support, and motivation about how you can incorporate regular exercise into your life to help maintain sobriety, call us at (561) 464-6533. We’ll be happy to talk! 

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