The Benefits of Physical Fitness in Recovery


Self-care may be abandoned when you are struggling with substance use. Physical fitness may be a form of self-care we neglect, as we may not be as concerned with our health as we should. However, many people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) greatly benefit from physical fitness routines. Research shows promising signs of physical fitness as a tool for SUD and mental health recovery. Physical fitness can be as simple as walking or riding a bike. Whatever routine you pick, there are proven benefits for substance use recovery.

Increased Brain Health

Research shows that regular physical activity leads to better nerve connections in the brain. It has also been shown to prevent white matter loss, which provides pathways for cells to communicate in your brain. Increased brain health is vital to recovery – when we use substances, our brain changes, and deteriorates. The brain’s natural process has been disrupted, which can lead to issues such as depression. Due to the benefits of physical activity, it may help prevent relapse. Many people replace substance use with a physical fitness routine to avoid feelings of boredom. When you take small steps towards physical activity in recovery, you can work your way towards long-term fitness. 

Techniques for Fitness

Physical activity that may be especially helpful to your recovery include: 

  1. Yoga Practicing yoga has become incredibly popular in treatment models due to its physical and mental benefits. Yoga helps us practice mindfulness, which helps us become aware of ourselves. Through that awareness, we can begin to heal. 
  2. Swimming – Swimming is one of the best exercises for our bodies. It helps build muscle strength and is a great cardio workout without high-impact on the joints. 
  3. Team sports – These activities are incredibly beneficial not only for physical fitness but also for building strong interpersonal relationships. Team sports teach us how to work together to succeed, much like peer-support models of recovery.


Physical fitness is beneficial to overall health and can help us in our journey to recovery. When someone uses substances, the brain deteriorates. Physical activity can boost brain activity and help heal the damage substances have caused. Whichever type of physical fitness routine you choose should be the easiest to maintain and most beneficial for your needs. It may be hard to find exercises that you enjoy at first, but there are a plethora you can choose from. Some people need more help and motivation than others, and there are resources available. At Avalon Malibu, we have many different treatments that incorporate physical fitness. We offer physical fitness based models, a ropes course, and many experiential therapies that include physical fitness. Our facility combines evidence-based mental health therapies and effective addiction treatments to provide you with comprehensive care supported by an integration of mind, body, and spirit. If you or someone you love could benefit from physical fitness type treatments, call us today at (844) 857-5992

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