How Exercise Can Help You Maintain Your Sobriety

The benefits of exercise when recovering from substance abuse are many. Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction cause biological, psychological and emotional damage. Addicts often neglect their health by not eating enough nutritious food, hydrating their body with water and exercising for physical strength. Eventually their body becomes weak and illness and disease start to set in. Poor nutrition also affects an addict’s mental and spiritual health. When the top priority in life is getting and staying high on drugs or alcohol, everything else falls to the wayside. Once an addict is in recovery and thereafter, they must begin to build up their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual strength again to regain balance.


Physical exercise can help you maintain your sobriety. It has many benefits, which include alleviating physical and mental stress. Tension and stress can be caused by anything. It can be caused by any type of physical stress on the body, even poor posture, or it can be caused by mental and emotional issues. Stress is pressure that builds up in the body and mind. When a person starts to exercise, the body and mind begin to release the tension they are holding. As this process occurs, the brain is also releasing more dopamine and serotonin into the brain which creates feeling of well-being. This action allows negative thoughts and emotions to be released and gives the person peace and calm.When a recovering addict engages in focused exercises, both physical and emotional negative energy are released in a natural and positive way.

What Happens to the Body when you Exercise?

Exercise causes the body to release the same endorphins that are released by substance abuse. The difference is that exercise creates a balanced, natural release of endorphins; substance abuse causes an unnatural surge of endorphins that creates an imbalance in the brain. This imbalance impairs a person’s ability to feel satisfaction, pleasure and happiness. When a recovering addict makes a commitment to engage in physical activity during recovery and thereafter, they are helping their body to re-introduce the natural, balanced level of endorphins back into their system. This action re-trains the body to regulate its own brain chemicals and mood in a natural, healthy way.

How it Affects your Mood

Another benefit of exercise is that it increases feelings of self-confidence and optimism as it diminishes feelings of anxiety and depression. This outcome is partly due to the body re-calibrating and regulating itself during exercise. A recovering addict will begin to experience feelings of accomplishment, self-worth and pride as they see their body transform, their mind become clear and their goals within sight. Regular exercise also improves a person’s sleep and their energy level will surge. All the added benefits of exercise help to make life more manageable. Recovery becomes a possibility that is now sustainable, and this makes a recovering addict feel empowered and happy.

Exercising in Rehab

Recovering addicts who begin to exercise while in rehab have an advantage. Exercise improves circulation, relieves stress, strengthens the heart, sharpens the mind, helps the body maintain weight and aids the body in sweating out toxins. Healing and recovery are accelerated when exercise is added to an addict’s treatment, and a sharp mind helps them to remain calm and focused on the goal of wellness.

Exercise is believed to be a component of rehabilitation that helps to keep addicts from relapse. It aids in the healing of the central nervous system and the brain’s memory pathways, which are often damaged by substance abuse. Exercise should be balanced with other holistic treatments to ensure that the recovering addict is healing mentally, physically and spiritually.

There are many choices that a recovering addict has in selecting what type of exercises they would like to do. Some suggestions are running, walking, yoga, cardio, sports, hiking, swimming, tennis, bicycling, martial arts, weight lifting, dancing, Pilates, kickboxing etc. There are exercises that can be done alone, with another person or with a group and they are all beneficial in some way to the recovery of an addict.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.