Regular workouts or any kind of physical activity can be an integral part of your efforts to stay sober. Research even backs it up: Studies suggest that adding exercise to addiction treatment can strengthen the effects of recovery. One study of patients being treated for substance abuse published in Mental Health and Physical Activity showed that exercise can lead to a sense of accomplishment; feeling stronger; improved health; and increased confidence in staying clean and sober.
Furthermore, exercise can give you a natural high to replace the artificial ones you’ve been chasing. When an addict is trying to recover, body and mind crave the endorphins that lead to the high he or she is used to. A vigorous sweat session can cause the release of those same endorphins, along with endocannabinoids; together, these biochemicals can produce a feeling of euphoria, making it easier for someone in recovery to cope with daily life. Although the high you feel is almost certain to be less intense than what you experienced with drugs or alcohol, exercise does provide a pleasurable release for many people.
In addition to the chemical changes happening in your brain when you exercise, working out can mitigate the negative effects of giving up your substance(s) or behavior(s), which include sleep troubles, anxiety and depression and weight gain. Simply by improving your overall health and well-being, regular exercise builds your body back up and gives you a healthy way to release difficult or pent-up emotions, including anger, sadness and frustration.