Exercise and nutrition play an important role in mental health. By incorporating fitness into addiction recovery treatment, you’ll feel better and improve your mental health. Many studies have identified the benefits of exercise and physical activity on mental health, and when you’re managing your mental health better, you’re less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

  • Only five minutes of aerobic exercise releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters that make you happy and act as natural painkillers.
  • Exercise decreases tension, elevates and stabilizes moods, and improves sleep and self-esteem.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), one aerobic workout alleviates symptoms of depression for several hours; incorporating regular exercise — the recommended weekly amount is 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense activity — can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression over the long term.

Create a Fitness Plan

 Not sure where to start? If you’ve been inactive for a long time, you’ll want to begin slowly, to avoid injury, and build up.

Set small daily goals. You’ll feel more accomplished if you start with attainable goals. Frequency trumps marathons, so aim for walking or some other moderate activity for 15 to 20 minutes each day. If you like music, podcasts, or audiobooks, download them onto your device and listen while you exercise.

Recruit a friend to help out. It’s more fun to exercise with someone else, especially because you can hold each other accountable. And stay patient! It takes a while to build up strength, stamina, and endurance. If you’d lived a fairly sedentary lifestyle prior to beginning your addiction recovery, it’ll take some time before the exercise gets easier. How long it takes to see fitness results also depends on your goals.

Find activities you like — and don’t be afraid to mix it up. Introverts often prefer solo activities, while extroverts enjoy group exercises. If you like more support, you may benefit from a gym environment or taking classes like spin, cardio-kickboxing, cross-training, Pilates, or yoga.

Fitness Activities That Complement Addiction Recovery


Whether you use the gym, take classes at a studio, use nature for your workout space, or have a large or small budget, these suggestions might help you get started. Try running, walking, jogging, cycling, roller skating, hiking, as all these activities require is the right pair of shoes (or skates), a bike, and a helmet. You can do everything outside or, when the weather’s nasty, use a treadmill at the gym or get one for your home.

If you really want to hit the ground running, sign up for a camp at the gym. You’ll build strength and fitness using group intervals and includes interval training, running, dynamic stretching, and intense activities.

Well-trained on physical fitness, personal trainers also provide advice on healthy eating and will work with you to develop a customized fitness and exercise plan that’s adjustable as you progress.

Nutrition for Addiction Recovery

 Balanced diets are an integral part to addiction recovery because they provide the nutrients your body needs. A recent study found that poor diets contribute to depression — a leading trigger of addiction.

Try these diet suggestions as you use nutrition to heal your body.

  • Restrict caffeine, which exacerbates insomnia and anxiety.
  • Eat fewer processed foods that are full of artificial ingredients.
  • Incorporate healthy fats, like omega-3, which help your body absorb vitamins.
  • Choose protein, which has amino acids your body needs.
  • Eschew refined carbohydrates in favor of whole grains instead.
  • Restrict refined sugars and sweetened foods to stabilize your blood sugar.

Learn more about how healthy eating can help you stay sober.

Exercise and Your Brain

 When your body feels better, your brain does, too. When you’re stressed, your body reflects those stressors with added aches, pains, or worse symptoms. However, when you incorporate exercise into your daily routine, you’ll benefit from:

  • Reduced fatigue and better sleep
  • Higher levels of alertness and concentration
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased self-confidence

Commit to spending just 25 minutes a day engaged in an activity you’ve incorporated into your lifestyle. You’ll clear your mind, improve your mood, boost energy levels, and improve your mental and physical health.


Photo Credit: Pexels.com
Guest article by Susan Treadway from rehabholistics.com
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