Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

You took the steps necessary to become clean and sober for many reasons, but one major and all-encompassing motivator was likely a desire to live a healthier life.   Now that you are well on your way down your path to recovery, what can you do next to become even stronger and healthier than you ever have been before?

The key to optimum health is exercise, and although you may be exercising regularly already, you may not fully realize the ways in which working out can help to keep you sober and moving forward on your recovery journey.   Here’s a quick look at the many ways regular exercise is good for you during this stage of your life., and if you aren’t exercising regularly already, some tips on how to get started.

Why Exercise?

There are countless reasons to exercise frequently.   Some of them you likely know already, but some you probably don’t!

  • Exercise relieves and reduces stress. Studies have shown that working out regularly can help to rid your body and mind of both physical and psychological stress.   Throughout our daily life, tension builds in our physical bodies as well as in our emotional mind.   By moving around, we can help relieve some of that tension, and get our mental juices flowing again through increased oxygen to the brain.   Running, stretching, and other types of activity can loosen up our muscles and joints.  If we are looser both physically and mentally, we will have the resilience to flexibly take whatever comes our way, and thereby we will be stronger against things such as potential triggers for relapse.
  • Exercising positively inspires brain chemistry. Working out causes our bodies to release endorphins and dopamine, which create a natural high.   These are the same natural chemicals your body released when you were an active drug abuser.  When using drugs, these endorphins trick your mind into believing you are feeling pleasure when you are not, but when exercising, the pleasure centers are activated for all the right reasons.  This will make you feel better while exercising, and it will also re-teach your brain to regulate its own chemistry in healthy and natural ways.
  • Exercise helps you be more positive. People who exercise regularly tend to be more self-confident and optimistic and suffer less frequently from depression and anxiety.   This is partially due to the endorphins being released in your body during exercise, but it’s also thanks to the positive thoughts created within oneself when participating in a regular exercise program.   Feelings of accomplishment, rejuvenation, self-pride, to name a few abound when someone is living a healthy lifestyle every day.   Positivity can be a priceless tool during recovery.
  • Exercise promotes mental clarity. Working out inspires mindfulness and helps your brain work better.   Through running, yoga, team sports, strength training, or other activities, participants really come to a deeper understanding of their body and enter a deeper relationship with their mind.  Many people report reaching new levels of clarity during a good, hard workout; part of that is likely thanks to increased oxygen levels, while some of it can likely be attributed to a growing understanding of one’s physical and mental limits, too. This sort of clear but deep thinking can, as you can imagine, be very helpful to anyone working on his or her recovery.

How to Begin

Perhaps you exercise regularly already and already know of the great benefits it can provide.   If you don’t, though, you’re not alone.   Many Americans report having little time for exercise; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people try to participate in at least thirty minutes of moderate physical activity every day of the week, but as of a 2012 study, only about 21% of adults met that guideline.  If you haven’t been exercising at all, 150 minutes per week may sound like a lot, but truly it’s just a starting point.   To help yourself get to that starting point, there are many things you can do.

  • Start small. Even five or ten minutes of activity is better than nothing, so get off the couch and go for a short walk.  In time, your time and distance will increase naturally, and you will be knocking out thirty minutes of activity daily in no time.
  • Find an activity you enjoy. If you know you absolutely hate running, for example, you will never continue a running program.   Look for an activity you enjoy.  Try a bunch of different things until you find one that works for you.
  • Consistency counts. Do something active every day.  Again, even if it’s just a few minutes of getting your heart rate up, it’s better than spending the entire day on the couch eating.  If you do something every day, it quickly becomes a habit, and then you are set for life!
  • Think outside the box. Traditional ideas of exercise, like going to the gym, may seem boring to you – and depending on your personality, something like that may never work for you personally.   Instead, think of other ways to be active.  Play with your kids.  Go for a walk in the park.   Throw the ball for your dog – over and over and over again.
  • Meet with a personal trainer. Even if you find that personal training isn’t for you, a brief consultation with a personal trainer can help you set goals and make a plan for beginning to exercise.  Trainers are professionally certified in helping people get physically fit, so if you have no idea what to do, a personal trainer can help you get started.

Anyone can exercise regularly, and everyone should.  As someone working on living a clean and sober and, most of all, healthy lifestyle from here on out, beginning a daily exercise routine can be one of the most important tools in your recovery toolbox.   Get out there, and start exercising!    Certainly, no one has ever regretted getting in good shape – and now, it’s your turn to join the club.

At Clear Sky Recovery we want to help you get started on that clean and healthy road!   Our ibogaine detox treatment helps people to interrupt their addictions and allows them to get to the root of the problem during a stay at our facility in Cancun, Mexico.  After your ibogaine experience, we will provide you with the support you need to take the next steps and move forward with the person you truly are deep down inside.  Our intake specialists are standing by to answer any questions you may have about our program, mission, philosophy, process, and experience, and the ways in which we can help you.   Please call us today!