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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., substance abuse, gambling, etc.) despite negative consequence.

It is a chronic brain disorder and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Addiction can wreak havoc in all areas of an individual’s life. Since the disease compels an individual to prioritize satisfying his or her substance cravings above all else, an individual struggling with addiction can experience a plethora of adverse effects, including physical complications, relationship fractures, financial strain, legal challenges, employment issues, and more. Part of treatment for substance abuse and/ or addiction is to help an individual learn to live a healthy lifestyle without the use of drugs or alcohol. This can include helping a person shift his or her eating habits, improving one’s sleeping routine, strengthening one’s social skills, and implementing an exercise plan. 


Exercise can be particularly helpful for individuals recovering from substance abuse and/ or addiction. Frontiers in Psychiatry published an article referring to preclinical studies that indicate “accumulating evidence shows that exercise influences many of the same signaling molecules and neuroanatomical structures that mediate the positive reinforcing effects of drugs. These studies have revealed that exercise produces protective effects in procedures designed to model different transitional phases that occur during the development of, and recovery from, a substance use disorder.” Depending on the individual’s physical ability and preference, different forms of exercise that could benefit one’s addiction recovery could include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, aerobics, yoga, and more. Engaging in regular exercise can also help with:

  • Release of endorphins: participating in regular exercise is a natural way for one’s body to release endorphins, triggering positive feelings in one’s body and reducing pain. 
  • Commitment: Committing to a regular exercise regimen can help an individual establish a positive relationship with following through on a goal, which can in turn increase one’s self-confidence. 
  • Self-esteem: after an extended period of habitual substance abuse, perception of self can distort, and self-esteem can diminish. Spending time mindfully taking care of one’s body can help to increase one’s self-esteem. 
  • Physical benefits: engaging in routine exercise can help an individual feel better physically and enhance sleep, strengthen muscles, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, increase endurance, and more. 

Integrating regular exercise into one’s daily routine can help an individual in recovery occupy otherwise dormant time with a healthy and productive alternative. 

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At Upwell Advisors, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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