Exercise To Help Stay Active While in Recovery

Long-term sobriety from drugs and alcohol can be a hard thing to achieve for those dealing with substance abuse problems. Treatment options for these issues range from medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and other less conventional methods. Exercise is one common strategy that sober living individuals employ into their daily lives to help promote positive health changes.

While exercise may be commonplace for those in treatment, some may not know how exactly to get started or might not know what to do. However, there are several exercise options available to help provide mental and physical health benefits to patients.

In fact, exercise is increasingly becoming a component in many drug and alcohol treatment programs as it has proven to have desirable effects when combined with things like cognitive-behavioral therapy. It can work to reduce negative feelings, stress, and weight gain. Whether it is yoga, weight training, running, or some other form of exercise, there are tons of things that you can do to get active.


One of the most popular forms of exercise for those who are looking to achieve long-term sobriety is yoga. Yoga is a form of mind-body practice that has been shown to reduce perceived stress, anxiety, and improve physical and mental health. There have been studies that have also shown that yoga specifically may reduce the risk of substance abuse and promote engagement within evidence-based therapies. There is also evidence that yoga can aid in mindfulness recovery including trauma-based issues.

Strength Training

Strength training was not only found to be a safe and effective way for patients to improve muscle strength and function during treatment but can also improve with mental health as well. Unfortunately, many who are dealing with substance use disorders have low-muscle strength and aerobic fitness and an increased chance of dealing with issues like falls, fractures, and more. This is why strength training can be so effective and helpful as evidence has shown that patients who participate in strength training exercises can help reduce chances of falls and fractures. Many patients, in general, will be in poor physical condition upon receiving treatment that is where strength and aerobic exercises can come into play to improve physical and mental health.


Running and jogging are popular forms of exercise for nearly everyone, including those in recovery. Running, and all other forms of exercise, work to stimulate the brain’s reward system and releases the same feel-good chemicals, like dopamine, that drugs do. In fact, there have been studies that have looked into the effects that jogging and walking can have on the dopamine system. The study found that those who participated in these types of exercises had a 15 percent increase in the number of dopamine receptors in the brain.

These are just a few of the popular forms of exercise that people turn to to help them improve their physical and mental health. Whatever you choose to do, just being sure that you are active and get the blood flowing and get the body moving will help to improve your chances of maintaining long-term sobriety.

About the Author

Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, an Indiana treatment center. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for the Boston Consulting Group before he realized his true passion lies within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.