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The Importance of Exercise for Addiction Recovery

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 thephoenix.org.

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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