Exercise And Recovery

Participating in physical activity and exercise can give your recovery a lively boost. Whether you’re walking the road toward sobriety or preparing for that first step, regular exercise results in many benefits to your physical and mental health.

Exercise: A Natural Rush

Many recovery techniques work to restore the brain’s balance of “happiness-inducing” chemicals like dopamine — a balance that drug and alcohol abuse disrupts.

Physical activity boosts the presence of these chemicals, too. Exercising douses the brain with dopamine, so exercising often means even more dopamine is produced. Our fitness rises, and our mood rises too.

For those in recovery, there’s an added benefit.

Studies show that exercise and physical activity can actually help return dopamine levels to pre-abuse levels.

The act of practicing an exercise routine — and committing to completing some physical activity every week — also keeps the mind off using drugs.

If you think these benefits sound similar to those of more traditional treatment methods, you aren’t the only one. Rehab centers across the country understand how physical exercise can help addicts recover. Many treatment programs include exercise in their recovery plans for this reason.

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Popular Exercises In Addiction Recovery

Like addiction treatment therapies, different exercises affect the mind and body differently.


Many treatment centers offer yoga as part of their recovery programs, as it helps foster a sense of calm and connection – two things often missing in the lives of those with substance use disorders. Yoga, with its focus on routine and controlled breathing, is an effective way to alleviate physical and emotional pain. These practices are particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with substance abuse, as they help to center and ground the mind. The deep breathing involved in yoga promotes the release of endorphins, or “feel good hormones,” which generate a natural high and enhance overall well-being.


Enjoying the great outdoors can boost dopamine levels during addiction treatment. Studies show that a simple 15-minute walk can help stave off cravings when they arise. A brisk stroll outside can also boost overall brain function by supporting new brain cell growth.

Strength Training

Lifting weights also has recovery benefits. Many recovering addicts suffer from insomnia, as they are unable to sleep without using. Weight training or bodyweight exercises like push-ups can help reboot the body’s sleep cycle over time. Some treatment centers have even more options, such as obstacle courses, rock climbing walls, and rope courses to help build strength and resilience.

Team Sports

The camaraderie built playing team sports can be a crucial piece to long-term recovery. Forming new relationships that don’t revolve around drinking or using drugs helps those in recovery smoothly integrate back into society.

Completing these physical challenges can boost self-confidence during recovery, all while releasing dopamine in the brain. The memories made during these exercise therapies can be strong reminders that you’re capable of overcoming any literal or figurative hurdle, equipping you with the skills to stay sober after treatment ends.

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