How Exercise Can Help Your Sobriety

Engaging in exercise for sobriety can help individuals maintain a healthy life free of drugs and alcohol. Exercising
during addiction recovery can help reduce cravings and maintain physical and mental health. Various low-intensity and
high-intensity exercises such as cardio activities, strength training and stretching can positively impact recovery,
particularly in combination with professional services.

Does Exercise Help With Addiction Recovery?

Exercise can help with addiction recovery and increase an individual’s chances of success. A 2011 study found that cocaine-dependent laboratory rats self-administered less cocaine after exercising on a running wheel than cocaine-dependent rats without access to a running wheel.

Similarly, researchers found in 2014 that morphine-dependent rats experienced decreased withdrawal symptoms and reduced voluntary morphine consumption after engaging in regular swimming exercises. Exercise can have similar outcomes for humans and help people reduce or abstain from substance use along with professional rehabilitation services.

Why Is Exercise Good for Sobriety?

Exercise is good for sobriety for several reasons. It releases chemicals in the brain that give an overall sense of
happiness and well-being, reducing stress and cravings. It
improves physical and mental health, and it can help individuals cope with challenges during recovery.

8 Benefits of Exercise for Sobriety

Pursuing and living a sober life is possible, especially with a healthy lifestyle and coping strategies. A consistent
exercise routine has the following benefits for sobriety:

1. Stress Relief

Stress is a normal part of life, but too much stress can lead to physical and mental complications including potential
relapse. Exercise is an excellent way to combat stress. Movement releases endorphins in the brain and helps the body balance the stress hormone, adrenaline.

Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercise can help the body fight stress. Going for a walk, running on a
treadmill or completing a workout routine can help you manage stress and reduce cravings that may occur during
stressful situations.

2. Healing and Physical Health

Prolonged alcohol and drug use impact major organs, but exercise can help promote healing for your body. Exercising
regularly can help individuals protect themselves from future health risks such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers
  • Metabolic syndrome

Exercising increases your muscle and bone strength, increasing your longevity and slowing the aging process. Taking
care of your body allows you to accomplish more physical tasks with ease and live an easier life than you would by
avoiding exercise. Exercise also benefits your mental health because it releases serotonin, a chemical believed to act as a mood stabilizer. Those advantages can help your recovery journey, as you’ll feel healthy, happy and eager to
continue pursuing treatment.

3. Healthy Distraction

Healthy activities can distract you from substance cravings during recovery. Establishing a daily routine is
important, so you should fill your day with healthy activities that take your mind off of cravings and help you focus
on the positives in your life. Exercise is a healthy coping mechanism because it benefits your mind and body while
keeping you busy. It gives you goals to work toward and opportunities to feel productive and accomplished, feelings
that are beneficial in recovery.

4. Improved Mood

People with substance use disorders often use drugs or alcohol to cope with intense emotions such as exhaustion,
anxiety and depression. Exercising is a healthier coping strategy that can combat negative emotions by releasing neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are natural chemicals produced in the brain that make people feel happier and reduce negative emotions.

5. Increased Energy

Regular exercise can make you feel more energized and motivated throughout the day. This motivation can help encourage
you to pursue addiction treatment, whether you’re attending group meetings or individual therapy.

When you exercise, your heart pumps blood faster, increases nourishment to the muscles and delivers more oxygen
throughout the body. This strengthens your body and increases its ability to release energy.

6. Better Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is important because it helps you function at your highest level, make good choices for
yourself and maintain your mental and physical health. Regular exercise can help you sleep better at night. Exercising
before you go to bed can make your body cool faster and help you fall asleep easier. Try to exercise an hour before going to bed, as working out right before trying to sleep can amp you up rather than wind you down.

Exercise also stimulates the body’s recuperative processes, restoring health and rebuilding strength while you sleep.
Insomnia can occur during withdrawal and the recovery process, but exercise can help to combat it.

7. Weight Stability

Exercise can help you lose weight or maintain your ideal weight. Various types of exercise help the body burn calories
and build muscle. A consistent exercise routine combined with healthy eating habits is an excellent way to maintain
weight stability and feel your best both physically and mentally during recovery.

8. Social Connections

Researchers have found connections between community-based exercise groups and benefits to addiction recovery. Visiting a gym or attending exercise classes expands the support network you may form in recovery activities like group therapy. You can feel more motivated to exercise and continue on your sobriety journey with group activities.

Get a Natural High From Exercise

Exercise is incredibly beneficial during recovery because it creates a natural, healthy high in the mind and body. When you exercise, your brain releases neurotransmitters such as:

  • Endorphins: Endorphins are the brain’s natural pain relievers that block pain, reduce stress and create feelings of pleasure and well-being. They are the chemicals the brain releases when someone eats delicious food, falls in love or has sex.
  • Dopamine: Dopamine can invoke feelings of pleasure while also regulating mood, heart rate, attention, motivation, sleep cycles, learning, pain processing and working memory.
  • Serotonin: Serotonin can naturally stabilize mood, create feelings of happiness and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Endocannabinoids: Endocannabinoids create a calm euphoric feeling following strenuous physical activity.

While all of these neurotransmitters can boost your mood during and after a workout, endocannabinoids may be most
responsible for the high feeling following exercise. They induce feelings of contentment and are the brain’s chemicals
that cannabis mimics. They also increase dopamine in the brain, creating feelings of optimism and helping people feel
more connected with others.

Substance use can eventually decrease dopamine in the brain, but exercise can replenish the brain’s dopamine supply
and increase a person’s capacity to feel joy without substances.

7 Types of Exercise for Recovering Individuals

When you’re adding exercise to your recovery plan, try to find activities you enjoy — that will make them more fun,
and you can feel more motivated to exercise. It’s OK to try an activity a few times, decide it isn’t for you and move
on to something else. If you are new to recovery or simply want to try some new activities to maintain your sobriety,
consider these fun exercise options:

  1. Walking and hiking: Walking is a simple way you can exercise each day. Even a short walk around the
    block or on the beach can begin to improve your health and help you maintain a sober life. Hiking is a great way to
    walk while exploring nature.
  2. Running: Running is an excellent cardio exercise that releases endorphins and gets your heart
    pumping blood faster.
  3. Cycling: Cycling is also a great cardio exercise if you prefer wheels.
  4. Swimming: Swimming is a fantastic cardio exercise if you enjoy the water. Swim some laps in the
    pool or take a dip in the ocean to get your
    endorphins flowing.
  5. Team sports: Joining a team sport is an excellent way to get exercise while developing healthy
    relationships with others and gaining a support network.
  6. Muscle strengthening: Activities such as CrossFit routines, weight lifting, squats and push-ups
    combine resistance and repetitive motions to strengthen muscles.
  7. Yoga and Pilates: Yoga and Pilates can increase flexibility, reduce stress and improve balance with
    special stretches that target various parts of the body.


Pursue Recovery With Transformations by the Gulf

With a healthy lifestyle, you can pursue and maintain sobriety. Implementing a consistent exercise regimen into your
routine can help reduce cravings and help you feel your best. But exercise isn’t the only way to pursue sobriety.
Professional support and therapy services can also help you in recovery. Transformations by the Gulf offers holistic
treatment to help individuals recover from substance use.

When you stay in our spacious facilities near the beach, you can recover in comfort and enjoy plenty of exercise opportunities just a short walk away. Whether you do some push-ups in the sand or swim in the ocean, Transformations by the Gulf is an excellent place to pursue recovery and maintain your health. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you live a healthy, sober life.