What Are The Best Exercises For Addiction Recovery?

Physical activity provides an excellent supplement to substance abuse treatment, and it can help people maintain sobriety. Some of the best exercises for people in recovery include walking and running, yoga, and strength training.

What Are The Best Exercises For Addiction Recovery?

Several addiction treatment programs help clients focus on their overall wellbeing, enhancing the recovery process through physical exercise and nutrition.

As more people realize the importance of regular exercise, many wonder how different forms of exercise can support addiction recovery.

Here you’ll find some helpful exercise options that you can use while healing from substance abuse.

Benefits Of Exercise In Addiction Treatment

Physical activity offers several proven health benefits, and many people report that exercise has helped them during addiction recovery.

Exercise can benefit people who deal with drug and alcohol abuse in several ways.

Some of these ways include:

  • mental health benefits — Exercise boosts endorphins, serotonin, and other brain chemicals that promote mental health and self-confidence.
  • physical health benefits — Physical effects of exercise include better sleep, higher energy levels, and other benefits that can bolster recovery.
  • dopamine regulation — Addiction affects how the brain processes dopamine. Exercise can help with dopamine regulation as the brain adjusts to sobriety.
  • routine and structure — During recovery, some people struggle to find activities that don’t involve drug abuse. An exercise routine can provide a healthy, drug-free way to fill time.

Types Of Exercises For Substance Abuse Recovery

There is no one best exercise for people in addiction recovery. If you are healing from addiction, the best exercise for you is the exercise that you enjoy enough to do consistently.

However, different forms of exercise do have benefits that promote recovery in different ways.

Here you’ll find some of the best exercise options for people overcoming drug or alcohol use.

This list is far from exhaustive, so if you do not see your favorite type of exercise below, you might choose another activity that you enjoy more.

Be sure to talk to a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have a physical health condition.

Team Sports And Group Fitness Classes

Team sports, group cardio classes, and dance classes are all excellent options for people dealing with drug addiction.

Whether they provide high-intensity or low-intensity exercise, group fitness options foster a sense of community.

Addiction can make people feel isolated, and loneliness is a common relapse trigger.

When you pursue fitness as part of a group, you may mitigate feelings of loneliness while experiencing the health benefits of exercise.

Walking Or Running

Walking or running is a great option for people who want to get more aerobic exercise.

It’s a simple and adaptable option that can be done without any equipment, although you can also carry some light weights with you if you feel comfortable doing so.

If anger and anxiety are some of your addiction triggers, walking or running can provide a quick way to release pent-up energy without turning to drugs or alcohol.


Yoga is a physical and mental practice in one that several drug and alcohol addiction programs use as part of a holistic treatment approach.

The mindful aspect of yoga can help people deal with cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and psychological addiction triggers.

It’s also a gentle, low-impact form of physical exercise, so it often provides a good option for people who are new to exercise or have disabilities that cause fatigue or pain.

Strength Training

If you’ve tried exercising in the past but find aerobic exercises tedious, you might benefit from weight lifting instead.

Depending on the exercises you perform, strength training can provide many of the same benefits as cardio, including elevating the heart rate.

However, it requires less of a time commitment than most cardio exercises.

Anecdotally, many people who don’t generally enjoy exercise have found it easier to stick to weight lifting than other workouts.

Exercise And Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Exercise can be an excellent supplement to addiction treatment, and it provides many benefits as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

However, when used in addiction treatment, it works best when combined with evidence-based treatment options.

For example, an opioid addiction treatment center may offer fitness and nutrition alongside medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Combining exercise with various types of addiction therapy can also help you manage the physical and mental aspects of substance abuse.

Get Help For Addiction

Though addiction impacts all spheres of life, many treatment options are available.

If you or a loved one experiences substance abuse, contact Addiction Resource today to find the best treatment options for your needs.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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