Move More: How Physical Activity Can Strengthen Addiction Recovery

Research shows that for those in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), physical exercise increases abstinence rates, eases withdrawal symptoms, and reduces anxiety and depression. In other words, by participating in enjoyable movement activities, you can improve your mental and physical health while furthering your recovery. You may even discover your new favorite pastime. 


Releases feel-good hormones: Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones in the body that create a natural burst of energy and rush of good feelings. 

Sweats out the stress: Shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, physical activity allows individuals to burn any excess energy that may be contributing to worry, stress, and anxiety. Movement also releases muscle tension and creates a sense of relaxation throughout the body. 

Keeps you healthy: Regular movement can promote whole-body health, by reducing inflammation, strengthening your immune system, and reducing your risk for heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.

Encourages social connection: Whether you attend a group workout class or go on a solo hike, it’s likely you’ll interact with others who share your activity interests. Who knows? Friendships may even develop from your encounters. 

Creates endless exploration opportunities: Since the options are almost endless when it comes to different ways to move, physical activity opens you up to new skills, challenges, places, people, and experiences. 

Fights depression and anxiety: One of the many ways exercise can boost mental health is by promoting the growth of new neurons that have been linked to alleviation of depression and anxiety.

Boosts self-confidence: Carrying out physical activity generally presents a challenge, and moving your body is often physically uncomfortable. But when you finish a gym session, yoga class, or bike ride, you gain a sense of accomplishment. Throughout your day following physical activity, you’ll have renewed self-esteem based on the knowledge that you completed a difficult task that contributed to your well-being.

Allows you to care for yourself: Exercise can be a form of self-care, as it promotes your mental, emotional, and physical health. You deserve to feel good, and movement can be both enjoyable and beneficial to your overall wellness.

Resets your perspective: Physical activity can provide temporary relief from life’s complications, keep you from dwelling on difficulties while you’re exercising, and encourage your awareness of the present moment. When you’re finished moving, you may even find that you’re more prepared to solve problems and overcome obstacles. 


Flow: Consider practicing yoga, which can encourage a sense of grounding and relaxation, or trying tai chi, a Chinese martial art intended to cultivate self-healing by reducing energy blockages within the body. You can take a class, follow a video, or create your own flow. 

Gym workout: A quick, convenient way to incorporate exercise into your day, a gym workout can involve lifting weights to strengthen muscles or cardio to develop endurance. Both will likely provide an outlet for any anger or stress, lift your mood, heighten your focus, and make your day just a little better. 

Hike: A hike can allow you to connect with nature, which is known to increase one’s sense of well-being in many ways. Additionally, the sights, sounds, and smells of nature can encourage present moment awareness, an effective way to calm the mind.

Go for a run: A jog is a simple way to move your body, process any pressing thoughts and emotions, and get outside. You might even sign up for a race to keep yourself motivated.

Try a new sport: From road biking and archery to rollerblading and boxing, find what interests you and get after it. Remember to be patient, kind, and forgiving with yourself when taking on new challenges, as learning curves are inevitable. 


Movement experiences at Wasatch Crest include alpine adventure outings, recovery-focused workouts, therapeutic yoga, and sober softball games. Through each experience, our clinicians guide clients in processing their thoughts and emotions, so that the activities benefit their recovery, personal growth, and overall well-being. Find out more about our addiction treatment programs in Heber, UT by reaching out

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