Let’s Get Physical! How Exercise Promotes Success in Long-Term Recovery

June 28, 2020
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While you were actively using substances, you probably didn’t think much about your health. Substance use disorder shifts your motivation and attention to acquiring or actively drinking or using drugs. Let’s face it — no one wakes up after a day of using drugs or drinking feeling “great” or ready to run a marathon. These substances negatively impact your mental and physical well-being both during and long after usage has stopped. This is why during recovery, self-care is key to long-term success. Exercise is an excellent form of self-care that has infinite benefits.

Here are 5 ways exercise can help you be successful in your recovery:

Exercise can…..

  • Improve your sleep.

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep is a necessity for everyone, regardless of whether you are in recovery or not. It is not uncommon to experience difficulty sleeping if you once used substances to help you sleep. Sleep is restorative and a lack thereof can have profound consequences on the psyche. Lack of sleep not only makes us tired and sluggish during the day, less productive, and generally “moody”, but it also means we cannot fully appreciate the good that is around us, often obsessing over the negatives in our lives. Having enough sleep helps with our cognitive processes and allows us to make the best decisions as we continue the lifelong journey of recovery.

  • Improve your mood and confidence. (Acquiring endorphins, the healthy way!)

You know that flood of happiness you get from a piece of chocolate?As you exercise, your brain naturally releases Endorphins, Serotonin, and Dopamine, creating a feeling of improved life satisfaction and happiness.

  • Help to reduce stress.

Recovery is stressful. It requires daily dedication to staying well and staying sober. Life, in general, is stressful at times. Stress impacts our blood pressure, our hearts, our blood sugar, and more. In contrast to substances, exercise is an incredibly positive and healthy coping mechanism to combat the stressors you may face. Exercise is a stress buster and stress is a sobriety buster. Stress is a natural and normal part of everyday life, yet studies show it can be greatly reduced with consistent exercise. As you reduce your stress, you increase your mental capacity to face the challenges of day-to-day living.

  • Help you structure your days and set goals.

Set times throughout the week that you will be physical and stick to them as if they were a job! Build your schedule around these blocks and create a structure for your weeks. Finding structure, setting goals, and achieving them is one of the cornerstones of a successful recovery and long-term sobriety. We may measure our sobriety in days, months, or even years, but it is something that we cannot take for granted. The temptations of relapse are always present. In recovery, it is important to create interim, attainable goals with the ultimate goal of staying clean for the rest of our lives. Exercise promotes this healthy thinking as we see progress in our dedication, consistency, and physical abilities – how far we can run, how much weight we can lift, etc. Aligning our exercise goals with our recovery goals can make for a positive and self-fulfilling situation.

  • Help you connect and bond with others.

Exercise is a great way to bond with others and connect. Whether you find classes at your local gym or fitness groups online, physical activity provides yet another way to connect. Connecting with like-minded individuals, focused on self-care and health will only further strengthen your support network as you progress in your recovery.

Join us on July 9th at 7:00 PM EST for our recovery-based Mindfulness and Yoga Zoom session for Fellowship Hall Alumni. Check your email for the Zoom link and be sure to add it to your calendar!  OR, email us to get the link.


Join us on July 19th at 5:00 PM EST for our recovery-based Running Club in Greensboro for Fellowship Hall Alumni. Check your email for the meet-up location and more information and be sure to also add this to your calendar!  

Ultimately the benefits of exercise are endless, and they speak for themselves. While it is only one part of the lifelong recovery process, it represents very real protection from drug use and relapse. And while many think that exercise needs to be difficult and take lots of time, exercise can be classified as anything that gets you moving, increases your heart rate, and makes you feel good. You should find ways to get active that you enjoy…make it FUN!

Here are some of our favorite workout videos, resources, and links:

Core Power Yoga
•  Free access to yoga and meditation classes through Core Power on Demand.

Cross Fit at Home
•  Provides free access to various workout and nutrition videos to preserve your health at home.

Daily Burn
•  Sign up for a free 30-day trial and receive access to full body workouts daily, including cardio, yoga, dance, Pilates and more. •  Credit card information required for the free trial.

Ekhart Yoga
•  Offering 12 free yoga and meditation classes, specifically designed to help relieve stress and anxiety. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!

Fitness Blender
•  Offers free workout videos based on difficulty, focus, and equipment available.

Gold’s AMP

FREE TRIAL | Start Your Workout In-App for Free

•  Providing free access to over 600 audio and video workouts to keep you moving through May 2020. Use promo code FIT60

Nike Run Club
• Need to get outside for a bit or have a treadmill at home? This free app helps you track your run and allows access to guided runs hosted by coaches or Headspace.

•  Live fitness classes with a 30-day free trial (use code ATHOME). •  Will require credit card information for the free trial.

•  Their digital app is free for 90 days; you don’t need a Peloton to use it. Not only do they offer bike and treadmill classes, but they offer outdoor walking/running classes, strength, yoga and meditation.

Pop Sugar Fitness
•   A free YouTube exercise channel that offers fitness tutorials and workouts.

10 Free Workout Apps to Use!

Now get to moving! Share with us YOUR favorite ways to be active by tagging @FellowshipHallNC or using the hashtag #FellowshipNCFitness on Facebook or Instagram J

About Fellowship Hall

Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

Copyright © 2024 Recovery Alliance Initiative
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