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Exercise for Addiction Recovery: Combining Physical Activity with Emotional Healing

Exercise for Addiction Recovery: Combining Physical Activity with Emotional Healing

Exercise interventions have been long known as beneficial for health and well-being. However, we have paid little attention to its impact on mental health, especially addiction recovery. Addiction remains a prevalent condition within the population; a report in the year 2020 shows that 13.5% of Americans who are 12 years and older have used drugs in the last month. Given this prevalence in society and the high relapse rates, experts have begun to explore possible treatment options, thus, the advances in exercise for addiction recovery. Recent discoveries in the field of mental health research show that there are benefits and prospects of exercise for addiction recovery. A study that reviewed the impact of exercise intervention on substance use disorder suggests that exercise and addiction recovery are closely linked. In this article, we’ll explore some of the benefits of exercise for addiction recovery and recommend exercise options that may be useful in addiction.

Benefits of Exercise for Addiction Recovery

Exercise can help improve your psychological health in addiction. This is because exercise has been shown to act on the same area of the brain that is active in substance use. Like psychoactive substances, exercise can activate the brain’s reward system and produce feel-good hormones. Here are some of the benefits of utilizing exercise for addiction recovery.

Reduces Cravings

In addiction recovery, one of the biggest struggles people face is managing their cravings for the substance they are addicted to. Exercise can help reduce the cravings experienced during addiction because the reward system is activated. This can be very helpful for preventing relapse and is one of the most proven connections between exercise and addiction recovery.

Alleviates Withdrawal Symptoms

Persons with addiction experience symptoms when they are trying to stop the use of an addictive substance. The evidence for exercise and addiction recovery shows that exercises help relieve withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and other forms of distress. This also helps prevent relapses, as withdrawal symptoms often prompt persons with addiction to return to substance abuse so they can minimize the distress they feel.

Provides a Structure and Routine

Another importance of utilizing exercises for addiction recovery is that they provide a routine and structure. Having a well-structured routine can help you prevent the triggers and behavioral patterns that may be triggering. For example, exercising after work may replace an after-work drink routine that may cause a relapse.

Improves Mood

Exercising can also help to improve your mood because when you exercise, hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. People with addiction often struggle with mood fluctuation, and exercising can help address this.

Boosts Self Esteem

Usually, persons living with addiction may struggle with their self-perception. Addiction may come with a lower evaluation of one’s self-worth and, as a result, poor self-esteem. A regular exercise routine where you challenge yourself daily and achieve your goals may help boost your self-esteem.

Improves Sleep Quality

Addiction also takes its toll on the sleep quality of persons living with it, as the substance may have disrupted the normal sleep-wake cycle of the body. Good sleep is vital for having a balanced state of psychological health. It reduces your predisposition to affective mental health disorders such as depression and bipolar affective disorder that may co-exist with substance use disorder.

Prevents Chronic Disease

Substance misuse also predisposes to chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc. Engaging in exercise for addiction recovery can also help reduce the predisposition to these other chronic medical conditions that may accompany substance misuse.

Increased Energy Levels

Another benefit linked to exercise and addiction recovery is that it can increase your overall energy level. This is very beneficial as persons with addiction may experience low energy levels occasionally.

Recommendations of Exercises for Addiction Recovery

There are different types of exercises, from aerobic to resistance training exercises such as weight lifting. If you don’t know where to start, here are some helpful exercise recommendations.

Taking a stroll

A stroll may be convenient and easy to start, especially if you feel tired and worn out after a long in-patient admission.


While this is more engaging and may require more strength and dedication, it also holds significant benefits for helping your moods, energy levels, and overall well-being.


Yoga can serve as an exercise option to help you relax more and practice mindfulness.


Playing a sport can also be a way to increase your level of activity and exercise while enjoying yourself. Sports also gives the opportunity to build healthy relationships with team members.

Other exercises you can practice include swimming, hiking, weight lifting, dancing, etc.

Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

Exercise interventions, alongside other medical interventions, hold great benefits in helping you in your journey of addiction recovery. At DetoxLA, we provide addiction services such as inpatient treatment and detox programs. We believe in a holistic approach to care and exercise prospects in speeding up recovery. To access our state-of-the-art rehab service, contact us today to begin your journey to long-term healing and wholeness.