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How Exercise Supports Addiction Recovery and Helps Prevent Relapse

A woman in addiction recovery practicing yoga outdoors.
We all know that exercise is good for us, but can it help you break free from addiction? Learn how exercise can help your addiction recovery and prevent relapse today.

You’ve probably heard it a million times that exercise is good for you. But finding the motivation to workout can be a challenge. And for those who are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s an extra hurdle to overcome.

If you’re in recovery, you might come home after a long day at work. There’s an empty feeling that you can’t fully describe. It’s a nagging feeling in the back of your head that’s telling you to drink or get high. But instead of relapsing, exercise can be a healthy way to fill that gap.

What if regular exercise could help you or your loved one reach lasting recovery and prevent relapse? The truth is, regular exercise can give a natural release of endorphins to help you beat addiction. In this post, you’ll learn how exercise can help you or your loved one their journey to lasting recovery.

How Exercise Can Help in Addiction Recovery

When you’re recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s common for your body to crave the release of endorphins. This is the biological reaction that produces the feeling of a “high”. But exercise can give your mind and body the same feeling, just not as intense.

With enough exercise, your body will begin to release endorphins naturally. This is often referred to as a “runner’s high”. While it’s not as strong as a chemical high, it can help you manage and suppress drug and alcohol cravings in a healthy way.

But that’s not all. A recent study showed that people who exercised in recovery felt a sense of accomplishment that increased their confidence in staying sober.

The Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

In the early stages of recovery, it’s common for people to experience anxiety, depression and feelings of withdrawal. But exercise in addiction recovery can help you:

  • Restore brain cells that were damaged by addiction
  • Help you get better sleep
  • Develop a healthy coping skill
  • Reduce cravings and use
  • Produce a natural reward that can improve self esteem
  • Build a healthy structure and routine for lasting recovery
  • Maintain a positive outlook on your recovery

And what’s more, each exercise routine has unique benefits for someone recovering from addiction.

Unique Addiction Recovery Benefits for Different Exercises


It might not be a surprise that many drug rehab facilities include yoga as part of their recovery programs. Yoga helps those in recovery focus on the present moment, while helping to manage anxiety and stress.

Weightlifting and Strength Training

Lifting weights and strength training can help improve your sleep cycle over time. Since many people in addiction recovery also suffer from insomnia, a healthy sleep cycle can help bring a little extra stability to your recovery.

Walking and Hiking

Walking or hiking outside is a great way to manage any cravings when they arise. Studies have shown that 15 minutes of walking outside can help raise your natural dopamine levels, helping you feel better.

Organized Sports

Most cities and suburbs have local sports leagues. Joining a local soccer or softball league is a great way to help ease your transition back into normal life once you’re out of inpatient treatment. Plus, being social can help you build your support network.

Exercise and Relapse Prevention Strategies

Relapse is one of the most common concerns for recovering addicts and their loved ones. As a result, relapse prevention strategies are always in high demand. Here’s what you need to know about exercise and relapse prevention:

  1. Exercise Helps You Deal with Boredom – Did you know that boredom is one of the leading causes of relapse? It creates an empty feeling that some in recovery are tempted to fill by going back to substance abuse. Fortunately, exercise serves as a healthy substitute that can keep you engaged and safely away from boredom.
  2. Exercise Can Help You Develop a Positive Outlook – The road to lasting recovery is filled with ups and downs. During those hard times, it’s easy to get trapped in negative thought patterns that can fuel your destructive behaviors. Exercise is a way to give your mind a clean slate. Seeing your fitness progress can help you develop a more positive outlook on life.
  3. Exercise is a Healthy Way to Cope – A big part of any relapse prevention strategy is stress management. Everyone has periods of high stress, but they’re more dangerous for those in recovery. Having an exercise regimen to fall back on can make a big difference in your recovery journey.

The Raleigh House Can Help You Reach Lasting Recovery

At The Raleigh House, we know how important exercise is to addiction recovery. That’s why our personalized addiction treatment programs include exercise like yoga and rock climbing. But we don’t stop there. We also help residents with their nutrition by teaching them about a pro-recovery diet.

Our addiction treatment center has been serving the Denver area for over a decade. We’re committed to showing you that recovery is possible. If you or your loved one is looking for the next step in recovery or has recently relapsed, we’re here to help.

If you’re ready to learn more about how our evidence-based treatments can help your recovery, contact our friendly admissions team today. We’re ready to hear your story and help you find the change you’ve been looking for.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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