Often, people who misuse alcohol or drugs neglect important things needed for both emotional and physical health, and this can often leave you feeling unwell or in need of some TLC. When you start your recovery journey, you can often find yourself with ‘free-time’ and instead of letting boredom set it, put the time to good use by starting some simple short exercises. There are lots of different benefits to exercise such s improved health, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, but when in recovery or treatment from substance misuse there are some primary benefits as follows;

  • exercise can enhance feelings of wellbeing – all which make life more manageable and enjoyable…increasing the possibility and sustainability of recovery
  • Improved sleep – exercise is proven to improve the sleep patterns and promote healthier sleep routines in those who partake in 20 mins of exercise at least 5 days a week.
  • Exercise relieves and reduced stress – tension builds in our bodies and getting moving help to alleviate this, and release the negative emotions attached to them. Exercise is proven to relieve psychological and physical stress…Get Moving!
  • It naturally & positively improves brain chemistry – when you exercise your body releases endorphins – a natural high – these are the same endorphins released when you use drugs. Only the release caused by drugs results in an imbalance that interfere’s with your ability to feel pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. Regular physical activity during treatment and recovery will help you reintroduce natural levels of endorphins into your system…helping you to feel better!
  • Improves your outlook exercising can give you feelings of accomplishment, pride and self-worth as you see your body get fitter and stronger and you reach little goals that you have set yourself. those who exercise report increased feelings of self-confidence and optimism and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Gives you ‘you time’ and time to think – through movement, you can take time away from the hustle and bustle and refocus your thoughts on your own wellbeing, having a brief break from the daily grind. You could leave your work out with a clearer mind, feeling more rejuvenated and optimistic. Having this break, getting some clarity can sometimes make recovery much more manageable.

Getting active…

The recommendations are to do 150 minutes of exercise a week (which is about 21 minutes per day, or 50 minutes 3 times a week). There are lots of different options to be more active, whether you like walking, gardening, running, team sports, or work out dvd’s.

NHS Choices has a whole web site dedicated to different options, some are detailed below. Remember, the most important thing is to be active – so try different types until you find something you enjoy.


Some exercise resources you could try...

  • Free exercise options

    Visit NHS UK website to access free resources

    NHS Choices hosts a whole range of options from walking to free virtual personal trainers and cycle training.

  • Active 10

    Get the Active 10 app

    This is part of the Public Health England One You campaign.
    Active 10 is an app for your smart phone which supports you to add more regular bursts of brisk walking to your daily routine with activity tracking, encouragement and achievable milestones.

  • Couch to 5k app

    Get the Couch to 5 K app

    This is part of the Public Health England One You campaign.
    Couch to 5k trains you to get off the couch and running 5K in just 9 weeks. Grab your trainers and follow the step-by-step audio instructions.