Exercise for Substance Abuse


Mental Health and Substance abuse are often closely linked. Due to October being Mental Health Month, it’s important to discuss the benefits that Exercise can have not only on Mental Health, but on people who want to abstain from substance use and abuse.

Due to the multifaceted nature of Mental Health, exercise prescription and adherence is a very complicated process. Foundations such as consistency and regularity of routine that create a good exercise program are often hard to come by and this leads to setting broader goals which can then, lead to less determination to achieve said goals. Whilst attempting to navigate a stricter route to success can lead to more anxiety or disappointment when things don’t go according to plan. In turn, either of these strategies can lead to an increase in substance use for certain people.

Case studies of exercise prescription by Exercise Physiologists have shown:

  • Significant improvements for mood and alcohol urge post exercise.

  • Scores for depression, anxiety and stress decreased by 50%.

  • Overall improvements in strength, and cardiovascular fitness.

While the studies show exercise prescription for mental health can:

  • Improve chronic disease outcomes (especially type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease)

  • Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety

  • Improve sleep quality and increase self-esteem

  • Improve cardiorespiratory fitness and reduce all-cause mortality risk

  • Improve psychosocial functioning (i.e. activities of daily living, social and occupational functioning)

  • Mitigate weight gain induced by psychotropic medications

Adapted from: Joint Position Statement: Addressing the Physical Health of People with Mental Illness. essa.org.au image credit: recoverycentresofamerica.com

#substanceabuse #mentalhealth #exerciseformentalhealth #exerciseforsubstanceabuse

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