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Sweating it Out Exercise and Addiction Recovery

Exercise and Addiction Recovery Resurgence - A woman is taking part in a coping skill of exercise that helps with avoiding urges for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Is exercise good for alcohol withdrawal? Yes.

Sweating it Out: Exercise and Addiction Recovery

Many rehab facilities introduce the idea of exercising to maintain your recovery. Incorporating exercise into a rehab program has shown many positive benefits. Some even consider exercise a vital tool, along with counseling and detox, for creating a healthy and substance-free lifestyle. A study in 2014 confirmed that exercise increases abstinence rates, eases withdrawal symptoms, decreases anxiety, and decreases depressive symptoms.

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Understanding the Value of Exercise

Is exercise good for alcohol withdrawal? Counseling, peer support, medications, and outpatient transitions are all well-known aspects of rehab. Exercise is increasingly being used by rehab centers due to its many positive benefits. 

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we consider exercise as a valuable tool for recovery. These are all great benefits that can easily be continued once out of rehab and back at home.

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Understanding Exercise and Addiction Recovery

The question is: Is exercise good for alcohol withdrawal? There are many benefits to adding exercise as a tool in recovery. It is a seemingly simple but powerful habit that can bring tremendous benefits for someone in recovery. The simplest steps tend to be the most successful and reproducible once someone has left rehab. Some benefits of exercise are setting structure, filling up time, restoring normal sleep patterns, and meeting other sober people.

Understanding the Value of Structure

Committing to exercising on a set schedule allows for a much-needed structure for the day. In rehab, the days are highly structured to re-establish balance, create order, incorporate socialization, and support daily and weekly goals. Maintaining this structure, once discharged from rehab, can feel like a monumental task. Setting exercise days and times is a gentle way to take control of your days and actively work on recovery.

Redirect Your Time

Regular exercise takes time. After rehab, many in recovery from addiction suddenly have time on their hands and need a positive outlet. The time that was spent obtaining substances, drinking, recovering from hangovers, then repeating the pattern is now open time for these individuals. This free time needs a positive redirection. Planning a workout, exercising, cleaning up, and traveling are healthy and positive ways to use this free time.

Reset Your Body Rhythms

Completing strenuous activity burns calories and can reset internal body rhythms, which may have been thrown off by drug use. Most struggling with addiction report disrupted sleep patterns. There may have been more time spent awake during dark hours and more time sleeping during daylight hours.

Resetting this can prove challenging. Exercise can promote a normal wake and sleep cycle and allow the body to naturalize its rhythm. Being tired when you lay down helps promote sleeping rather than going to bed just because of the time.

Better Actions can Lead to Better People

Building healthy habits means spending time in those habits. Is exercise good for alcohol withdrawal? Others who exercise may also be incorporating healthy habits and could be a potential peer group. Changing scenery and experiences many times involves building a new friend group. Although this is not guaranteed, surrounding yourself with others who are making healthy choices increases your odds of successful recovery.

Effects of Exercising and Addiction


During the depths of addiction, you most likely stopped all forms of exercise.

Balancing managing a hangover, while maintaining the demands of addiction, make exercise a low priority for most addicts. This struggle, along with the physical damage from substance abuse, makes most addicts feel unable to exercise despite desire.

With newfound sobriety, starting exercise in rehab can introduce new possibilities. Is exercise good for alcohol withdrawal? Yes, it is.

How to Start Exercising

Taking care of yourself can feel foreign when battling addiction. An ideal way to work through recovery and practice self-care is taking care of your body. Just like eating healthy meals, taking care of your body by exercising is important for rebuilding self-confidence and self-love.

As you begin exercising, small goals may be appropriate. Walking twice a week for 20 minutes is a great starting point. Some may want to be more aggressive in their goals. What is best for you depends on your physical condition. Regardless, just start.

Use Self-Motivation to Maintain Good Habits

Positive rewards can be a strong motivation for continuing self-care. One example would be a trip to the mountains to hike a trail once you walk an hour a day. If you relapse, you can withhold your trip as a punishment. By rewarding yourself and reaching your goals, you have enabled a new reward system other than drugs or alcohol. This rebuilds new healthy reward pathways in the brain and can repair damaged mechanisms associated with drug or alcohol highs.

Mental Illness and Exercise and Rehab

There is some evidence that exercise may be a self-protective activity from the effects of addiction. In a 2012 study, exercise-based interventions were found to reduce compulsive drug use behaviors. It has long been accepted that exercise is an effective strategy to reduce stress and cope with anxiety.

Approximately 30-50% of individuals with addiction have an underlying mental illness that may or may not be diagnosed. Utilizing a variety of mechanisms to combat addiction increases the odds of success. Exercise can be of universal benefit regardless of any underlying undiagnosed mental illness.

Treatment of Addiction Utilizing Exercise

Exercise and rehab are common partners. A 2018 study has found that exercise is an effective tool in managing stress and coping with cravings. Results such as these have led to increased interest in using exercise as a method of dealing with substance withdrawal. This may be logical as exercise has been associated with the release of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical.

Give Your Mind a Break

During periods of exercise, those participants felt reduced cravings. When exercising, the body-mind connection is generally increased, leading to increased awareness. This can serve as a simple distraction from focusing on your addiction. It can also be a welcome break to process information, heal, and enjoy some mental alone time.

Payment Information

Do you want treatment but are worried about how to pay for it? We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.

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How to Get Help

Resurgence Behavioral Health Center is available to answer questions or discuss options with you. We have a team of professionals who are dedicated to understanding and healing your addiction. We give hope back to those who are searching for recovery and stability.

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At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.