Some people claim that adopting a fitness lifestyle cured their chosen addictions. What exercise elements are best for someone emerging from addiction recovery? 


Exercise for recovery

There is no doubt that exercise has several health benefits. Countless studies have proven that regular exercise yields better health outcomes such as reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. Exercise also boosts overall well being, improving depression, anxiety and insomnia. But can it also help with addictions? Writing for Harvard Health Blog, Claire Twark, MD, says yes.


The more support tools the better

An athlete herself, Dr. Twark treats patients with substance use disorders. She is a fan of exercise as one tool for supporting successful recovery. Combining MAT (medication assisted treatment) with recovery support groups and exercise provides a good foundation on which to build lasting sobriety.


How can exercise help?

Exercise provides several important elements that are helpful for someone emerging from addiction. Here are just a few:


  • Structure – Using and thinking about using take up a lot of time. Exercise helps those in recovery fill that time with an activity that is both positive and yields benefits that last beyond the moment.


  • Restorative – Addiction can take a toll on the body and mind. Exercise can help to restore health, vitality and stamina. Be patient, this may take time. You may not be able to run a 5-k at first, but with time you will begin to feel better and be able to train harder and longer.


  • Focus – Exercise provides a positive focal point, particularly if you set personal goals. For example, if your goal is to complete a 5-k, you are less likely to succumb to the temptation to use. When the desire to drink comes up you can talk yourself out of it by remembering that you are meeting your running group in the morning.


  • Camaraderie – For some people, recovery can represent loss. You must let go of many familiar people, habits and places if they don’t support your recovery. Exercise can help you create new community and habits. Join a group activity for a feeling of belonging in a positive setting.


  • Comfort – Exercise can help you develop new ways of relating to emotional pain, boredom and discomfort. Instead of using, you can bike, roll out your yoga mat or knock out a few laps at the pool. It’s good to feel good about the ways you help yourself feel better.


Exercise is good for everyone. If you are in recovery, it is good for you too. Add this powerful tool to your sobriety plan. You’ll soon learn that feeling good, and sober, never felt better.