What Benefit Does Fitness And Exercise Have In Addiction Treatment?

By: Design for Change Recovery August 28, 2017 no comments



Fitness is an important component in recovery. Treatment programs for addiction include a daily focus on physical movement and healing. Strength-training is common in addition to dance fitness, free time at the gym, and more. Addiction affects the brain and the body. Heavy drug and alcohol abuse wear down the body, atrophying the muscles, weakening the joints, and generally causing the body to be sick. Addiction also affects the mind. Becoming completely reliant upon drugs and alcohol to produce sensations of pleasure, once the substances are taken away the brain has a hard time producing pleasure of its own. Exercise is one of the most perfect forms of treatment for recovery.

Exercise and fitness affect both the brain and the body. The physical benefits of exercise are obvious. Clients in treatment who need to gain weight are able to do strength training and build muscle. Clients in treatment who need to lose weight are able to lose weight as well. The body detoxifies when it sweats, it builds strength that’s been lost, and there are internal processes as well. For example, the heart really likes exercise because it promotes a healthy flow of blood and oxygen.

As for the brain, exercise and fitness produce a wonder hormone called endorphin. Endorphins are that “rush” or “high” of satisfaction and pleasure during a workout. Promoting the production of dopamine as well as serotonin and norepinephrine, exercise and fitness are helpful to create new neural pathways in the brain and restore some of the brain’s ability to feel pleasure on its own.

Multiple scientific studies have found that exercise is effective in reducing symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and cravings for drugs and alcohol. The increased blood flow as well as oxygen flow to the brain in addition to the stimulated production of “happy” hormone chemicals help the brain regulate stress more effectively. 20-30 minutes a day of exercise is a critical tool for long term recovery. When someone incorporates regular exercise into their lifestyle, they create discipline, new relationships to reward, an understanding of consequence, and a pleasurable activity.


Design For Change focuses on helping each client find a fitness routine that works best for them and their body. Our residential treatment programs are customized to the needs of each client, guiding them to freedom and hope- promises of recovery. For information, call us today: (877) 267-3646