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Exercise Can Keep You Sober

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Exercise Can Keep You Sober

Everyone knows that they are supposed to exercise to stay fit and healthy, but that’s easier said than done. Besides looking and feeling healthy, exercise comes with a range of benefits. The physical benefits of exercise are weight control, lower risk of cancers, increased life expectancy, reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, muscle and bone strength. Being active can improve mood too. Doctors will advise patients to exercise to get endorphins moving, and exercise is often an important element of mental health treatment, as endorphins are described as the “feel good” chemicals in the brains. But did you know that exercise can keep you sober?

Idea Health & Fitness Association mentions that 25-60 minutes of aerobic exercise increases positive feelings of well-being. The research found that after 4 weeks of regular exercise clinical depressed patients reported positive mood changes. Popular cardio exercise (aerobic exercise, that gets your heart pumping and blood flowing) machines are the treadmill, stair mill, rowing machine,elliptical and cycling or spin bike. More accessible options if the gym is not available are walking, jogging, yoga, biking, dancing and swimming. You may have heard of the “runner’s high”. Running releases a million of those feel good chemicals called endorphins. The recommended program to receive the full benefits of running is three times a week for 20-30 minutes per session.

Very few know that exercise work wonders curving addictive habits. Addictive habits can be hard to break for most of us. There are a million of addictive behaviors, from internet or shopping addiction to dangerous drug addiction. Some habits seem harmless, while others can negatively effect the body. Substance abuse addiction, such as alcohol, comes with many health related dangers. Heart, liver, and brain damage can result from the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages. Even the increased risk of some cancers have been found from the effects of alcohol. But doctors now recommend a physical activity treatment plan. For alcohol abuse, running is found to combat cravings and uplift mood, as well as provide other physical benefits.

Author Mishka Shubaly of the best-selling autobiography “The Long Run”, detailed his personal account of his journey into sobriety through ultra-running. There are quite a few success stories of running aiding in the road to recovery and preventing relapse. New scientific research and clinical trials are providing evidence of how exercise wards off addiction. Study participates who are coping with alcohol abuse reported successful recoveries and decreased relapses from staying active.

The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health provides a study, “Aerobic Exercise for Alcohol Recovery” outlined six reasons why exercise was successful as a treatment plan for alcohol abuse.

Researchers believe that exercise may:

1. provide pleasurable states without the use of alcohol
2. reduce depressive symptoms and negative mood
3. increase self-efficacy
4. provide positive alternatives to drinking
5. decrease stress reactivity and improve coping
6. decrease urges to drink

Depression and alcohol abuse are often co-occurring illnesses for most people. Luckily exercise is proven to improve mood and an additional treatment plan for alcohol abuse One the reasons for relapse in alcohol recovery is a depressed mood, which leads to the temptation of having that extra glass of wine. Running and alcohol both increase dopamine, but over time, the effect of alcohol on dopamine diminishes. Which causes the need to over-indulge to get the temporary mood enhancer of alcohol. Dopamine is a hormone that controls many functions of the brain. Memory, cognitive ability, reward signals, decision-making, pleasure, moods and behaviors, body movement and sleep are the main functions dopamine affects, regular exercise naturally increases dopamine in a healthy ways.

Another benefit of having an exercise program for a recovering alcohol addiction is controlling weight gain. Substance abuse users often over-eat or binge while in recovery. Food acts to satisfy cravings for alcohol. Depression, which often co-occurs with alcoholism, can also cause binge eating for some people.

Having a hard time getting motivated? Start off slow with incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Don’t overwhelm yourself with time limits and frequencies. If jogging once a week for 10 minutes is a comfortable level of physical activity for you try that starting point. And always consult your health professional before implementing any rigorous workouts or physical activity.

Here are some quick tips:

Listen to Music. Add your favorite tunes to your iPod while you jog around the block.

Group Activity. Try joining a fitness class or ask a friend to walk with you. Moral support can boost confidence.

Make Opportunities. Decide to walk those flight of stairs instead of waiting for the elevator.

Have fun. There are a ton of ways to increase your physical activity. Find an exercise program that you will enjoy doing.


Zena D. writes about healthy living, fitness and self-improvement. She supports the integration of holistic living with modern medicine. Her knowledge of health-related information spans five years of personal research.

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About Anas Alaoui

Anas Alaoui

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