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Exercise in Sobriety: How It Helps & Why More Isn’t Better

Article At A Glance:

I consider myself a hard-charger, always continually looking to crush that next exercise session or gruelling high-intensity training regime.

See, Exercise in sobriety is absolutely critical in staying sober, in fact, it’s one of the 5 key habits you should be doing to support long-term sobriety.

Of course, it can be so easy to replace an alcohol addiction with an exercise addiction, I’m guilty of it because being a former drinker still doesn’t change the fact that I’m a hard-charging entrepreneur who just wants to crush the day.

I call this swap an addictive drive, or a strong desire to succeed, which can often derail many people who share this form of personality – more on this here.

Before I digress further, in this article we’ll discuss some key areas in how exercise helps to support and sustain sobriety, and why doing more isn’t always better.

Let’s dive in.

Exercise is a Distraction

When I was first looking to get sober, I was already heavily involved in endurance events, studying nutrition and pretty much getting my nose stuck into any book I could on the topic of health.

I say this because by this point I never used exercise as a distraction, or had to force myself off the couch to lift weights. 

When it came to addiction, on the other hand, it became such a good tool to distract myself when cravings really set into gear.

Exercise Boosts Your Mood

Staying sober can be hard, and when cravings start to wear you down, your mood generally comes down with it.

This was always a big thing for me, and being that I am more genetically predisposed to depression, this didn’t help either.

This is why exercise is foundational to staying sober, because it has some substantial mood-enhancing and anti-anxiety benefits when it comes to substance use disorders (Linke & Ussher, 2014).

In fact, these positive mood effects have the capacity to reduce the acute distress of withdrawal (Smith et al., 2008), which means it can help diffuse those cravings faster.

While we’re on the topic, another game-changer when it comes to depression and addiction is Creatine, which has shown to be a beneficial aid for individuals battling substance abuse disorders – Read the article here.

Exercise Creates Structure (and Purpose)

I’m a big believer in having a structured morning, and quite often, exercise in sobriety can very much help with this.

Having a structured day also helps to form good habits, such as eating nutrient-dense food, and getting better consistent sleep, all key areas in supporting long-term sobriety.

Creating good structure to our daily routine through the use of exercise establishes purpose, and it gives us a reason and motivation to wake up and crush the day.

I expand more about having a structured day and what I do to stay focused here.

Exercise Educates And Upgrades Your Health 

One of the biggest things I’ve found when I started using exercise in sobriety is my continual hunger to learn more.

The ocean of exercise is massive, especially when you start looking at supplements to really upgrade your health, the more you know the less you know.

In saying that, after using so many high-quality protein powders, nutrient blends and supplement compounds, there is so much we can use through science to live a pretty limitless life, without any of the crutches that addiction brings.

Compounds like NAC, Glutamine or the previously mentioned Creatine.

Simply having a high-quality whey protein powder can support your neurochemistry substantially, while also supporting muscle growth and recovery – more here.

But More Exercise Isn’t Better

Often considered the dark side of exercise, also known as over-exercising or overtraining, and sometimes also a form of addiction.

It can be so easy to switch your current addiction to exercise itself, it’s easy, I’ve done it, and sometimes it can be hard to avoid at first for most driven individuals.

Generally, when we overexercise, we don’t give our body enough time to recover, and not just our muscles, but our nervous system too.

This can often result in serious mood disruptions, lowered immune system function, and becomes stress-generating rather than stress-relieving (Cardoos, 2015).

This ends up being poor utilisation of the benefits of exercise, and will actually increase our risk of relapse in the early days of sobriety (Sinha, 2008).

So how do you know when you’re pushing too hard? Generally, for me, I try to listen to my body and know when days need to be slower.

I also try to upgrade my recovery by doing a combination of the below:

  • Support my exercise recovery using UM Sports Resurrect – It contains HMB which is a game changer for accelerating tissue repair!
  • Consume approximately 1.5g protein per body weight – I use UM Sports Whey Protein isolate (WPI) post-workout and UM Sports Platinum Blend at night (Use code “CLARITY” for 10% OFF)
  • I use functional music to enhance relaxation and recovery – is what I use. (Use code “Clarity” for 20% OFF if you decide to use the link an try it out!)
  • Hydrate often with good quality mineral-rich water, I generally add Celtic salt to my water to improve the trace mineral content.
  • I consume a quality Magnesium supplement before bed – more here.

If you have any questions regarding this article, reach out.