Exercise and Addiction Recovery

MastHead Outline
October 4, 2019

We know that exercise has a lot of benefits and can improve health on many levels, including helping people lose weight, feel happier and strengthen their cardiovascular system. But can exercise help those who are struggling with opioid addiction? Mounting evidence suggests that the answer is “yes.”

How Does Exercise Help With Addiction Recovery?

There is a great deal of evidence that exercise does indeed help many individuals stay on the path to recovery for a number of reasons. One is that exercise can release endorphins, which improves mood in much the same way that addictive substances can. While this does not mean exercise can completely replace the feeling an addict gets from taking their drug of choice, it can help by giving the recovering person greater resolve to stick with their treatment.

In addition, exercise can increase a person’s general level of energy. For those who have gotten used to addictive drugs getting them through the day, making it through daily activities without them can be extremely draining. Exercise can help boost the body’s oxygen levels and make those daily tasks a bit easier to complete.

Exercise can also help regulate sleep patterns. People who get regular exercise are often less tempted to nap during the day and are able to fall asleep more easily at night and wake up more easily in the morning. These can all be big challenges when you are in recovery, as cessation of your drug of choice can often lead to sleeplessness at night, difficulty getting out of bed or sluggishness during the day.

Another very important benefit of exercise for those in recovery is that it can protect the brain from the ill effects of drugs. One study found that mice in alcohol withdrawal had significantly lower levels of seizure activity when they exercised regularly.

What Are Some Good Exercises to Aid With Recovery?

Some studies with animals show that swimming leads to less voluntary morphine consumption in rats, who also show less self-administration of cocaine when they have an exercise wheel to use. Swimming, running, cycling and other cardiovascular activities seem to have a strong ability to distract addicted individuals from their drug cravings.

In truth, almost any type of exercise done consistently has the potential to make the road for someone in recovery a little easier, including modern favorites like boxing, hiking, yoga or CrossFit. Participating in a group exercise class or activity is a great way to get support from friends or make new ones while taking steps to stay healthier and stave off addiction.

Who Can I Contact If I Am Struggling With Opioid Addiction?

If you are struggling with addiction and don’t know where to turn, contact the health professionals at AppleGate Recovery. We combine medication with compassionate health care, leading to an overall patient satisfaction rating of over 95 percent. We have flexible appointment times with confidential, HIPAA-compliant treatment on-demand and 24/7 access through our answering service. To learn more and find an AppleGate Recovery clinic near you, call 1-888-488-5337 or fill out a contact form online today.