The Importance of Exercise for Addiction Recovery

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Aug 23, 2018

Making News

Substance use disorder can wreak havoc on people’s lives. Fitness activity can be a transformative way for those in recovery to heal, rebuild their lives and find a community of healthy supporters.

According to a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity in 2011, patients with substance use disorder who exercised while in recovery reported feeling greater strength, improved health, a sense of accomplishment, and increased confidence about staying clean and sober.

The Phoenix, a national nonprofit organization founded in Boulder, Colorado, is a sober active community for those in recovery or those who choose to live sober. It’s a recovery support service, not a treatment center, and it offers free fitness programming and events to anyone with 48 hours of continuous sobriety. The approach is based on the principle that addiction is a chronic disease that requires ongoing treatment.

Programs include diverse group exercise activities, such as CrossFit®, boxing, climbing, running, mountain biking, strength training, yoga and more. The Phoenix research team has found that participants are staying sober (relapse rates are cut in half), and their overall health is improving. Learn more at

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at