Importance of Physical Wellness in Addiction Recovery

Learn more about physical wellness, addiction, health, exercises, and recovery in this article.
Physical Wellness

Table of Contents

What Is Physical Wellness?

Exercise is an effective therapy for mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, and it can also be an essential part of addiction recovery. According to studies, people who engage in a fitness practice enjoy happier and healthier lives.1

Experts in the field of addiction recovery and psychological health state that fitness is vital for maintaining an addiction-free lifestyle and boosting mental health. Exercise lifts people’s spirits, making them feel on top of the world. In addition, it boosts confidence and improves self-esteem.

In this article, you will get a glimpse of what this concept is all about and get into the depth of wellness and addiction recovery. Is physical fitness truly functional in addiction recovery? What is the relationship between physical wellness and addiction recovery? What is the importance of physical wellness in addiction recovery? You’ll get answers to these questions and more below.

Learning More About Physical Wellness

Physical wellness encompasses a lot of things, not just bodily exercises. The Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh defined physical wellness as “the capacity to maintain a healthy lifestyle that allows us to go about our everyday activities without becoming exhausted or stressed out.” 2 Making healthy decisions in the following areas contributes to physical wellness. These areas include nutrition, body movement and physical activity, sleep, stress, and sexual health.3

In the early 1800s, fitness was described as carrying out daily tasks without becoming exhausted or weary. Today, physical fitness is viewed as a measure of the body’s ability to perform effectively and successfully in work and leisure activities, be fit and active, resist hypokinetic diseases, improve the immune system, and respond to emergencies.4

Customized fitness programs focus primarily on one or more specialized abilities and health-related demands like bone health.5 According to several sources, mental, social, and emotional health are equally significant aspects of total fitness.

The Connection Between Physical and Mental Health

Effects and Importance of Physical Wellness in Addiction Recovery

Exercise is essential in recovering from addiction; however, the importance of sticking to a regular exercise regimen to sustain sobriety is often overlooked. When combined with other forms of treatment, exercise can help avoid relapse by establishing a consistent routine, occupying free time, regulating mental health, and instilling more self-esteem. This section will discuss how physical wellness can be a powerful tool in recovering from addiction.

Maintenance of Healthy Weight

Physical activity can aid in the maintenance of a healthy weight and strengthen bones and muscles. Exercise is especially beneficial because weight issues are frequently associated with substance abuse recovery.

Prevention of Chronic Diseases

Exercising has physical health advantages beyond weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting active for at least one hundred fifty minutes per week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers, and other chronic diseases.6 In addition, regular exercise can help the brain recuperate from the adverse physiological consequences of chronic drug use by increasing the brain’s number of new nerve connections.

Reduces the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Abusing substances, such as alcohol or illicit drugs, causes many changes in the body systems. These chemicals can affect the metabolism system. Thus, exercising and maintaining physical wellness can combat and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Psychological Health Benefits

Endorphins are hormones released in the body when participating in physical exercise. These endorphins, like morphine, interact with the receptors in the brain to reduce pain perception. After each workout, this process can result in positive feelings of excitement and optimism. Exercise-induced stimulation of these receptors does not result in addiction or dependence.

Goals for Achieving Physical Wellness

Utilize the following tips to achieve physical wellness during addiction recovery:

Understand How Your Body Works

Many people set daily goals for physical wellness without understanding how their body works, resulting in unrealistic objectives that limit achievement in the long run. Paying attention to how the body responds allows people to cut out the bad and work on the good.

Feel Competent With Physical Activities

People need to feel competent and optimistic about the physical activities they engage in. Going into something with a negative mindset will most likely lead to a negative outcome.

Develop Well-Balanced and Healthy Eating Habits

Alongside exercising, nutrition and diet are factors of physical wellness as well. A good and well-planned diet helps fight illness and strengthens immunity. It is a big part of achieving physical wellness.

Become a Responsible Drinker, or Stop Drinking Alcohol Altogether

Alcohol can degenerate one’s health and slow down the pace of achieving physical wellness.

Develop and Cultivate Leisure Activities

Leisure is a significant factor that allows people to relieve stress and creates a time for meditation.

Seek Medical Care When Needed

Whenever patients encounter a problem on their path to recovery, they should immediately seek medical help to avoid complications.

Physical Wellness in Addiction Recovery

There is a close relationship between physical wellness and addiction recovery. Illicit drugs and alcohol contain harmful chemicals that can damage parts of the body, so focusing on health and wellness can help offset the damage.

The Relationship Between Physical Wellness and Addiction Recovery

Many people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction tend to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, weight gain is frequent early in recovery, contributing to depression and relapse. Thus, over-consumption of food or binge eating can develop into a difficult cycle.
As a result, patients in a wellness and addiction recovery program must adhere to a nutrition and fitness regimen. Integrating a fitness program into an everyday routine will help strengthen one’s body and improve their quality of life.

Benefits of Physical Wellness in Addiction Recovery

The following are some benefits of physical wellness for those in addiction recovery:

Improved Mental Health

According to research, people who exercise frequently have increased mental and emotional wellness and reduced incidences of mental disease.7 Furthermore, mental health illnesses like sadness and anxiety often co-occur with addiction, so developing cognitive solid health behaviors is especially crucial for individuals in recovery.
Physical wellness can help improve mental health and give people a more energetic view of life while recovering. Sharper thinking, learning, and judgment abilities are some of the other psychological health benefits of exercise.

Easing Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical wellness might serve as a healthy substitute for addictive drugs because addiction and fitness function in the same areas of the brain. They both promote the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which activate the reward circuit. According to the National Institutes of Health of the United States, physical wellness activities like exercising have several advantages, including reducing anxiety symptoms, decreasing the risk of depression, reducing the desire to drink alcohol, and enhancing coping skills.8
In addition, many substances can cause anxiety, sweating, difficulty sleeping, and elevated blood pressure during withdrawal. Thus, exercise-induced dopamine production can assist people with withdrawal symptoms.

Prompting Social Connections

People with substance use disorder tend to withdraw from social gatherings and isolate themselves. In the long run, this can cause loneliness and depression. Physical wellness activities can aid patients in connecting them to social groups to lighten up their mood.
For instance, a patient might be advised to register in a gym. The aim is not only to get them to exercise but to build relationships with other people. This will also foster quick wellness and recovery from addiction.

Stronger Immune System

The use of substances over time constitutes a depletion in the immune system. These substances contain chemicals that can reduce how the body fights diseases. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health, regular exercise can help prevent the body from developing major illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, and osteoporosis.9

Relapse Prevention

Substance abuse, short or long-term, has negative and detrimental effects on the body. Fortunately, physical wellness can gradually help in restoring one’s health to a normal state. Physical wellness activities increase a person’s ability to withstand stress through acting on hormones that impact the neurological system—reducing the risk of relapse.

An Overview of the Benefits

Physical Activities That Are Helpful for Addiction Recovery

Exercise offers a slew of advantages for patients in addiction recovery, including raising abstinence rates, lessening withdrawal symptoms, serving as a distracting factor from cravings, and alleviating worry and despair that might emerge throughout the recovery process.

Physical activity and exercise may bring even more benefits regarding addiction and rehabilitation, making the road to recovery that much smoother. Here are some exercises that can be helpful in addiction recovery.

Exercise and Addiction Recovery

It has been proven that exercise contributes to addiction recovery. Exercise does not only affect the body but also has a positive effect on the mind. It improves the production of dopamine, a chemical released to make a person feel good and confident.

How Exercises Prevent Addiction

Addiction is a medical problem that can be treated; however, around 60% of people who seek treatment for a substance use disorder will relapse within a year.10 As a result, researchers are still looking for novel and efficient approaches to avoid recurrence.

One animal research study sound that regular swimming lowers voluntary morphine intake in opiate rats, and exposure to an activity wheel reduces cocaine self-administration in cocaine-dependent rats.11

Additionally, a small human trial of thirty-eight men and women who abused various drugs, including opiates, cannabis, amphetamines, and cocaine, were given an exercise regimen. Participants committed to participating in social exercise three times a week for two to six months. Twenty persons completed the intervention. Five people claimed abstinence, and ten said they had reduced their substance usage when reviewed a year later.11

Physical Exercise and Mental Healing

Physical Exercise and Mental Healing

Physical activity, such as walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, yoga, and gardening, can improve mental health. Being physically active generates hormones in the brain, increasing self-esteem, concentration, and overall well-being.

When someone finds an activity that they enjoy, they are met with a sense of accomplishment. It’s also a terrific chance to meet new people, take a break from everyday routine, and acquire confidence. Other advantages include:

Six Ways Exercises Can Benefit Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery and exercise have been linked to each other through a series of studies and research. Here are some ways exercise can help with addiction recovery:

Increases Energy Levels

Exercise, contrary to popular belief, can increase one’s energy levels. Even if someone is exhausted after a workout, they’ll notice a sense of revitalization.

Reduces Stress

Stress is frequent in recovery and can lead to relapse if not treated. Trying to live a healthy life and avoid relapse can cause a lot of pressure; however, by engaging in modest and consistent exercise as part of the addiction recovery, patients can obtain a feeling of significance and competence that can help alleviate these sensations.

Helps You Sleep Better

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. People begin to notice better sleep patterns after following a regular exercise routine.

Helps Elevate Your Mood

A lot of people say that exercise makes them happy. There’s a good reason for it. Any form of physical activity releases feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. Thus, exercise is a common go-to for anyone to treat depression and stress.

In addition, exercise allows people to take out the energy they would waste on stress and channel it into something more beneficial. Especially in the early months of addiction recovery, this positive effect of exercise can be a great benefit.

Reduces Drug Cravings

Engaging in physical activities can help patients reduce alcohol or drug cravings. This is because exercising can help occupy people’s time and keep their minds off unpleasant concerns throughout their recovery from addiction. A consistent fitness plan also provides structure. So, having a routine is crucial when someone is getting back on their feet.

Helps With General Well-Being

It is common for substance use disorder to consume people’s lives and negatively affect their personal hygiene, physical strength, and mental health. Physical exercise and a healthy diet can aid in the recovery of one’s body and mind, enhancing the sense of well-being.

In addition, exercise and physical wellness can improve self-confidence, immunity, endurance, skin, and muscle tone. Patients will notice more significant benefits if they strive harder to improve themselves. Moreover, seeing such outcomes will encourage them to continue.

The Eight Dimensions of Physical Wellness

Physical Wellness as a Potential Treatment for Drug Addiction

Physical wellness can serve as a great help to people trying to recover from drug addiction. In most rehabilitation centers, physical activity, nutrition, and exercise are incorporated in the treatment progress, showing positive results and recovery benefits.

Fortunately, physical wellness is not as costly as most people think. All that is required is to focus on getting better, set daily goals, and track progress.

Is Physical Wellness a Standalone Treatment for Addiction?

Physical activity isn’t considered a standalone treatment for addiction—substance abuse treatment programs usually consist of numerous components. Inpatient therapy for alcohol and drug addiction is the most effective treatment method, providing twenty-four-hour monitoring and assistance.

Traditional addiction treatment therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and alternative therapies, such as mindfulness training, yoga, and adventure therapy, may be available in inpatient treatment programs. Combining multiple therapies and treatment methods provides personalized treatment plans for each patient. So, introducing physical wellness in the treatment process along with therapy can lead to a long and successful recovery.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

Related Content

Learn More

In-Network with Most Major Insurance Providers

Fill out our free and confidential form to see how your insurance could cover the cost of treatment. No commitment required.