Man running for exercise and addiction recovery

Meth Recovery Process: Can Exercise Even Help?

Can Exercise Really Help Keep You on Track?

Methamphetamine use disorder takes a toll on the brain’s reward systems, often resulting in mental health issues, like depression, which can linger for a while even after the person has stopped using the drug

Adopting healthy lifestyle choices that can counter these effects is an important part of the meth recovery process. Depression is one of the most common symptoms experienced by meth users even following substance abuse treatment. Research has shown conclusive evidence that exercise reduces the symptoms of depression. 

Studies have also found that exercise can stimulate the brain’s reward pathways in ways that help supplant the desire for methamphetamine. The brain “learns” how to seek its reward from exercise and this begins to habituate healthy behaviors which in turn supports the meth recovery process. 

While exercise by itself cannot sustain recovery, it has the exceptional benefits of both improving health and reinforcing positive behaviors, two things that are especially important in early recovery. 


What is the Connection Between Exercise and Addiction Recovery?

Exercise and addiction recovery are closely tied for several reasons. Substance use negatively impacts health, and exercise is one of the best ways to restore health. Exercise also helps to “rewire” the brain’s reward centers. The so-called runner’s high we’ve all heard about is a genuine phenomenon. 

Our bodies reward exercise. Physical exercise leads to higher levels of dopamine and other “feel good” chemicals naturally. These are the same chemicals mimicked or released by drugs often abused. Exercise has the benefit of improving physical health and reinforcing healthy behavior by retraining the brain. 

While good health alone does not equal addiction recovery, it absolutely supports recovery and makes it easier to sustain. Exercise also provides a place to channel energy and activity to combat boredom, two more attributes that make it a useful component of any recovery plan. 


How to Practice Healthy Living in the Meth Recovery Process

Exercise should not be the only healthy life change adopted following substance abuse treatment, but it is an important one. Nutrition continued mental health therapy and investing in your spiritual growth are all equally as important. Methamphetamine use has serious detrimental effects on health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle allows the body to begin to repair that damage and for new, positive behaviors that support recovery to take root. Here are some examples of practical exercises for beginners:

  • Walking
  • Low-impact aerobic exercise
  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Light weightlifting
  • Swimming

A good gauge of an appropriate level of exertion for light exercise is that you should be able to hold a conversation during it without being out of breath. Remember to take it easy at first, especially if you aren’t used to regular exercise. You should also remember that nutrition and mental health are equally important to exercise. 


Substance abuse treatment does a fantastic job of beginning the meth recovery process. Committing to healthy lifestyle changes is critical to continuing the healing and recovery after treatment. If you have any questions about exercise and addiction recovery or need help for yourself or a loved one, give Washburn House a call at (855) 298-3104.

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