Does Exercise Help You Stay Sober?

Getting clean and sober is a difficult accomplishment that deserves tremendous praise. However, the quality of a person’s recovery is often the determining factor as to whether they can and will remain clean and sober. For people who are determined to stay recovered for good, your sobriety should always be your number one priority.

People in sobriety maintain a positive outlook that helps keep them avoid relapses by attending 12 step meetings, building a spiritual connection, and by working with others in recovery. Another common outlet that many successful recovering addicts and alcoholics use to improve their outlook and state of mind is regular exercise.

Exercise and Sobriety

The Benefits of Exercise in Recovery

Exercise is beneficial for the person in recovery because it helps them feel better. When a person exercises, their bodies naturally produce and release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that are the brain makes that reduce pain and make a person feel good. Exercise also reduces stress. When a person gets clean and sober, they experience a tremendous amount of stress. Now that the substance you were addicted to is gone, you have to deal with stress naturally, as opposed to artificially. And that’s where the benefits of exercise in recovery come in!

Exercise also builds a person’s self-esteem. When a person begins to see the changes in their body shape and how they feel after a good hard workout, the exercise is rewarding. For some, those feelings post-workout are better than any drug out there!

The answer if exercise can help a person stay sober is YES. The medical researchers at Harvard Medical School agree. A study was done on animals and humans to see if they would select exercise over drugs. The research confirmed that exercise does reduce drug consumption in both animals and humans.

Combined with what we know about other treatment, exercise shows promise. Animal studies have shown that regular swimming reduces voluntary morphine consumption in opioid-dependent rats, and access to an exercise wheel reduces self-administration of cocaine in rats dependent on the drug. A small study in humans investigated an exercise program offered to 38 men and women who misused a variety of substances, including opioids, cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine. Participants agreed to take part in group exercise three times a week for two to six months. Twenty people completed the intervention. When reassessed a year later, five reported abstinence and 10 reported that they had decreased their substance use…many patients with various substance use disorders have found that exercise helps to distract them from cravings. (Harvard Medical School)

The success of working out in recovery is multi-layered, and it’s one of the best steps you can take to improve your self-care after completing a rehab program. Workouts add structure to the day. They help with forming positive social connections and help treat depression and anxiety in combination with other therapies.

Exercise for Co-occurring Disorders

The number of people who suffer from addiction and alcoholism is not improving. Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 8 people are in some form addicted to something in the United States. What is improving is the addiction research on how to help addicts and alcoholics in staying sober. Addiction is often a form of self-medicating for other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. The recommendations for people who are diagnosed with depression and anxiety also includes regular exercise.

Get the Help You Need 

The programs that we offer at Recreate Life Counseling encourage regular exercise as part of your personalized recovery program. People who exercise remain clean and sober longer because they have a way to reduce stress, feel better, and improve their self-esteem. If you’re in need of substance abuse counseling or addiction treatment, contact us today for a confidential assessment.