Fitness Can Be a Powerful Tool for People in Recovery

For people in recovery from substance use disorders, many say that the process becomes a little easier when they embark in physical activity and find a sense of community.

A group like the Phoenix offers just that. It’s been around since 2006, with thousands taking part in fitness. 

Scott Strode is one of the founders, working with a team of like-minded individuals to have a place where people could meet and take part in safe and sober activities. Fitness is a huge part of it, but Phoenix’s website lists a slew of activities, including:

  • Strength training
  • Boxing
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Camping 
  • Skiing 
  • Biking
  • Arts, crafts, books
  • Social activities

What started small now occurs in more than 50 cities in more than 20 states, including in Denver and Colorado Springs. There are live-streamed and on-demand classes, and events and community challenges, too. Classes are free. According to The Phoenix, the only “cost” is 48 hours of continuous sobriety. (Donations are accepted.) The Phoenix invites both fitness newbies and gym regulars to take part. 

Informally, The Phoenix says among the members who stick around for three months or longer, eight out of 10 have stayed sober.

A Powerful Tool

Studies have found that exercise, while not a cure, helps those in recovery. Opioid-dependent rats experienced fewer drug cravings after regularly swimming. Cocaine-addicted rats, when given access to an exercise wheel, took less of the amphetamine. (Medication-assisted treatment and psychotherapy have the best track records for battling substance use disorders.)

Take Your MEDS

When including exercise as part of a health-improvement program, some advise a person to take their MEDS, or more specifically, practice Meditation, get Exercise, eat a healthy Diet, and get enough Sleep. Others adjust the acronym to better fit recovery:

  • Medications. Take as prescribed, whether it’s for an underlying disorder or as part of Medication-Assisted Treatment.
  • Exercise. At least 20 minutes of cardio a day.
  • Diet. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Socialization and spirituality. Make connections and seek balance.

The exercise aspect offers a bit of instant gratification by burning off stress and boosting feel-good endorphins, but bit by bit it also demonstrates the positive pay-off for sticking to something good.

Sources

thephoenix.org – Find Classes & Events

steamboatpilot.com – ‘I didn’t feel hopeless:’ Exercise provides physical activity, community for those recovering from substance abuse disorders

health.harvard.edu – Can exercise help conquer addiction?

sloww.co – A Simple Wellness Strategy: MEDS (Meditation, Exercise, Diet, Sleep)

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder: review of the evidence and future directions

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Exercise In Rehab: Is It Effective And Why?

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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