Long-term alcohol and drug abuse significantly damages your physical and psychological health. When you’re on the road to recovery, it’s important to take measures to get yourself back into a state of well-balanced health. Developing a regular exercise routine is one effective way to give a powerful boost to your recovery process.

Exercise and the brain

In the beginning, the use of alcohol and drugs triggers the body into releasing “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins. However, after a certain amount of time, abusing these substances actually inhibits your body’s ability to produce these chemicals in a natural manner. This means that you become dependent on external substances to trigger the release of endorphins. When you cease to use these substances, endorphin levels in your brain drop substantially, resulting in symptoms of depression, anxiety and intense cravings. This is one of the primary causes of recovery relapses.

If you’re embarking on the journey of sober living, creating an exercise schedule is a great way to give your body a natural dose of endorphins. By engaging in regular physical activity, your body regains the ability to produce these happy chemicals on its own. Don’t feel called to the gym? Get your exercise by spending time outdoors; join a community sports team or start hiking some local trails.

Psychological benefits of exercise for recovery

In addition to improving your brain chemistry, regular exercise creates a beneficial sense of structure in your daily life. When you commit to a workout routine, you’re giving yourself a realistic goal to achieve, and this motivates you to stay on track with your recovery. Several studies show that exercise also improves your self-esteem, reduces feelings of stress, gives you a more positive outlook and sharpens your mental faculties.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need healthy activities to stay busy with. This prevents you from relapsing into old habits or visiting old haunts. Daily exercise is perfect for filling in those time gaps when you’re feeling tempted to do something you’ll end up regretting. Get creative with your exercise – there are dozens of ways to get in a good workout. Some examples include yoga, bike riding, skate boarding, swimming and dancing. Mix up your routine to keep it fresh and interesting; this helps you maintain your commitment.