Could Exercise be a Key to Recovery?

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Many people think of not drinking and not using drugs as the “end all, be all” in recovery from substance use disorder. In some ways that is a fair way to think about things, but abstinence is the ultimate goal of recovery. Abstinence from psychoactive drugs is the absence of something that you once did. The keys to recovery will be things that we do to stay sober and stay happy and healthy, rather than simply being the absence of drinks and drugs. Just as the foundation of a building should be strong and solid, the key to our recovery should be something positive we do in our lives, rather than simply being something we no longer do. Drinking and using drugs was a symptom of a major disorder, and sobriety will be only one positive aspect of the transformation we make in our lives in recovery. The best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, including Florida Springs in Panama City, teach people with substance use disorder about the physical and spiritual transformation that is necessary for achieving long term recovery. Our facility in Panama City has a fitness room and yoga classes for exactly that reason, because a healthy lifestyle can be incredibly helpful when it comes to staying sober and being happy in the long term.

Recovery and Fitness

Rather than going over the myriad things that might be important in recovery for different people, I wanted to focus on how exercise has been playing a key role in recovery for a growing number of individuals. Sobriety is a huge factor in a return to a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle after suffering from addiction. With that said, how many people in sobriety can honestly say that alcohol or drugs were the only unhealthy aspect of their life of addiction? Many addictive substances play a negative role in depression and anxiety disorders, organ function, dental health, overall hygiene, maintaining a healthy weight, regular visits to doctors for various reasons, and countless other aspects of physical and mental health. Cutting alcohol and drugs out of the picture can improve all of these things in the long term, but sobriety alone is not likely to return sufferers of addiction to perfect health, or even good health for that matter. Exercise has been scientifically proven to help with virtually all these problems, both directly and indirectly. Things like organ function, cardiovascular health, weight loss, and sleep problems will be directly improved by the physical effects from regular exercise, but there are also major benefits to the lifestyle that comes along with starting a regular exercise regimen and the willingness to stick to that regimen. In active addiction we found every available reason to use alcohol and drugs most of the time, and we often found excuses or procrastinated when it came to healthy activities. Regular exercise can help in the transformation from addiction to a healthy lifestyle, and a truly healthy lifestyle is always more than just abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The best drug and alcohol rehabs in the country, including Florida Springs in Panama City, will reinforce sobriety with various positive lifestyle changes, and exercise has become one of the important lifestyle changes for many sober people. Let us now discuss some of the scientific reasons that exercise is so helpful in this process.

The Science of Exercise and Sobriety

One study of fitness and recovery found a group of benefits I had not thought of before. The University of California San Francisco found that many people who participated in fitness during recovery from substance abuse benefitted from the added sense of community they found among people interested in fitness activities. Not only did people in recovery benefit from a newfound community built around recovery and sobriety, but they also found a new community to socialize with around fitness and exercise. Many of those people also found that the community around fitness was less preoccupied with issues around substance abuse, and this fact helped ease them back into normal life. There is certainly a place for both recovery related activities and non-recovery related activities during sobriety. Too much focus on alcoholism and addiction all of the time can cause burnout, and for some people an overload of focus on sobriety can actually cause difficulty early on in recovery. An ability to deal with normal life and people who are not in recovery is an important factor in building a new life after drug and alcohol treatment. The results of the UCSF study mentioned that all successful treatment centers should make investments in fitness and physical wellness activities. As I mentioned above, Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center includes both a Yoga room and Yoga classes, as well as traditional fitness resources and activities. The UCSF study found major benefits to peoples physical and emotional well-being after a 12-week fitness regimen during early sobriety, and many people believe that the spiritual and emotional benefits of fitness and exercise can match the physical health benefits in the short and long term. If you or a loved one needs more information about drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, call the number on this website to speak to an intake professional at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center today.

By T.A. Cannon


STEVENS, M.; HUBBARD, E.; LEUTWYLER, H. Tools You’ll Have for the Rest of Your Life: A Qualitative Evaluation of a Fitness and Vocational Training Program for Substance Use Recovery. Substance use & misuse, [s. l.], v. 55, n. 4, p. 628–635, 2020. DOI 10.1080/10826084.2019.1691599. Disponível em: Acesso em: 25 jan. 2022.