If you are suffering from a mental health disorder or have recently completed treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, your recovery programme may well recommend that you take part in a form of aerobic exercise on a daily basis.

If this resonates with you, you may now be looking to uncover why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery.

To offer you the answers you may be searching for, we have outlined why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery, the forms of exercises that will support your long-term recovery and how regularly exercising can offer you a fresh outlook on life.


Our Top Five Reasons Why Fitness Is Essential to Addiction & Mental Health Recovery

Medical professionals across the world have conducted various studies that determine just how important it is for an individual in addiction and mental health recovery to take part in some form of physical activity.

From reducing stress levels to increasing our overall health, much of the research confirms what we already know.

Exercise can drastically reduce the negative repercussions that mental health disorders have and can further support those in addiction recovery.

Below, we have delved into the top five reasons why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery.


Fitness Boosts Our Mood

Mental health charity Mind regularly promotes the benefits that fitness has on addictions and mental health disorders, stating that exercise helps release endorphins which enhance moods and encourage a positive mindset.

As endorphins are released, those in recovery will find that exercise not only makes them feel happier, but they gradually minimise the side-effects that mental health disorders often have.

Furthermore, research shows that fitness is a natural and highly effective anti-anxiety treatment. As anxiety levels decrease, individuals in recovery will be left feeling somewhat optimistic about what the future holds for them.


Fitness Reduces Stress Levels

Following on from the above reason why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery, the NHS has reported that individuals that take part in at least 10 minutes of physical activity each day are 17% less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety or even depression [1].

As mental health disorders and addictions come hand in hand, keeping stress levels to an absolute minimum is essential for those in recovery.

Unexpected and unanticipated stress has the potential to see an individual unable to cope with their feelings, and once again turn to substances.


A Fitness Routine Provides Those in Recovery with Structure and Control

As an individual embarks on their journey to a long-term recovery, adopting a fitness routine can have several benefits.

First and foremost, as touched on above, a fitness routine provides structure. Throughout addiction and mental health recovery, routines and structure are imperative as they help an individual stay occupied, in turn reducing the possibility of relapsing.

In addition, implementing a fitness routine can assist a better night’s sleep. When an addiction or mental health disorder is present, at least 35% of individuals will experience insomnia [2].

This leaves many feeling overwhelmed and experiencing burnout. Sadly, these feelings are often associated with relapses.

Furthermore, fitness routines offer a sense of self-control. As individuals commit to going for a walk at lunchtime or attending a fitness class with a friend, they will begin to find that they can regain control of various aspects of their life that their addiction or mental health disorder would have previously controlled.

Not only does this offer a sense of relief, but it sees many in recovery flooded with euphoria.


Exercise Helps Decreases the Ramifications of Addictions and Mental Health Disorders

As the short and long-term effects of addictions and mental health disorders impair an individual’s life, their body and brain will be left to feel the repercussions.

From suffering from headaches, chronic stress, and even physical illnesses such as cardiovascular problems, the short and long-term ramifications of addictions and mental health disorders can impact an individual’s overall health.

In addition to relieving the physical ramifications that addictions and mental health disorders have, exercise can also reduce and ease the psychological ramifications felt.

In fact, the NHS states that taking part in a form of exercise is proven to lower the risk and symptoms of depression by 31%.

With this in mind, participating in a form of exercise can help mitigate the ramifications that addictions and mental health disorders may have.

Although exercise alone will not alleviate the health conditions potentially acquired completely, symptoms can be reduced.


Exercise Contributes to A Long Term Recovery

Last but by certainly no means least, exercise contributes to a long-term recovery. As individuals take part in exercise, moods are enhanced, and stress and mental health disorders are alleviated. In turn, this mitigates the risk of relapse, ensuring that an individual can make a long-term recovery.

As we can see from the above, fitness and addiction recovery often comes hand in hand. Not only does fitness help enhance an individual’s mood, but regularly exercising can reduce the overall impact that addictions and mental health disorders have.


What Exercise Should I Take Part in?

If, having read our top five reasons why fitness is essential to addiction and mental health recovery, you find yourself contemplating the type of exercise you should take part in, we have listed just a few forms of exercise that are proven to assist those in addiction and mental health recovery.

  • Daily Walks
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Bike Rides
  • Fitness Classes
  • Yoga

As you glance over the above forms of exercise that contribute to a long-term recovery, you may be under the impression that you will need to carry out gruelling gym sessions or attend multiple fitness classes. However, this is not true.

As touched on above, even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise each day can have a positive impact on the body and mind.

If you are currently in recovery and have tried to take advantage of the benefits that exercise affords, yet find yourself struggling, it is vital that you contact your doctor, rehab facility or support group as soon as possible.