Detox and Renew Your Life Through Sweat

Exercise is often an obvious answer when we’re looking for a place to start making a major life change. Whether to improve appearance, strength, energy or endurance, the positive benefits of fitness have a ripple effect into other areas of life. Although the physical advantages are easier to see, the psychological component of having a commitment and a community—not to mention the additional endorphins—make exercise an ideal outlet when dealing with stressful life transitions, including addiction recovery.

There is consensus in both medical and mental health communities that regular (four to six days a week) physical exercise (45 to 60 minutes) can produce significant benefits, including:

  • Increased production of serotonin
  • Increased production of dopamine
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced feelings of depression
  • Increased range of motion
  • Improved global health
  • Improved appetite
  • Improved sleep

“Regular physical exercise, whether in the gym, on a yoga mat or pulling weeds in the garden, has important benefits for those in recovery,” says Dr. Meredith Sagan of Prominence Treatment, a non 12-step rehab center. “Developing a regular schedule of recovery-centric activities is key to shifting the recovery addict’s mindset from addictive or sobriety-focused thinking, feeling and behavior. Regular exercise is also an excellent form of self-care and self-soothing, replacing the old, addictive response to stress.”

Yoga is a good therapeutic option for someone who isn’t sure where to start. The focus on deep breathing, letting go of judgment and finding comfort in discomfort are all important tools to practice for a life well lived. Yoga classes can also serve as a gentle introduction to meditation and mindfulness, which help ease anxiety and uncertainty.

“The term ‘yoga’ in Sanskrit means to yoke,” says Dr. Sagan. “The idea of yoking, or bringing the mind and body into balance so they can work better together, is integral to holistic forms of addiction treatment. Developing long-term recovery requires individuals to find non-using coping techniques in ways that are balanced and consistent over time.”

“There is well-documented evidence that mindful meditation and diaphragmatic breathing used when doing yoga promotes emotional, psychological, neurobiological and spiritual well-being, in addition to previously mentioned physiological benefits.”

How do you start? Well, you just do. Trying new things can feel uncomfortable, but staying stuck in old routines is ultimately worse. Remember that everyone in a yoga or exercise class is there for a reason and will admire your efforts (if they even notice anything outside of their own).

“It is best to consult with a health care provider before beginning any new exercise regimen,” Dr. Sagan advises. “It is also advisable to work with a trainer, coach or teacher to develop an exercise routine that is appropriate for your age, gender and physical condition. One tendency to be mindful of is to not overdo it when starting out.  Those that do are at increased risk of physical injury or burnout.”

Here are some more helpful tips:

  • Safety first: Get medically cleared before starting a new or resuming a previous exercise routine.
  • Get support: Attend a class, hire a trainer or connect with an experienced partner to help you learn how to get the most from exercise. Finding a workout partner also helps to keep you accountable, motivated and tends to make exercise more fun.
  • Create SMART goals: Create exercise goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

The most important step in any endeavor is the first one, so get started. Keep an open mind, prepare for sore muscles, experiment with different classes, styles and teachers, and renew your life in recovery by detoxifying your body and your mind all at once.


Ashley McCann is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher who spends her days barefoot on the beaches of South Florida. She writes on mindfulness and wellness topics, from holistic healing to the challenges of balancing modern-day family life. Named to Ignite Social Media’s “100 Women Bloggers You Should Read,” you can find more of Ashley’s musings at


heather g
heather g1 years ago

thank you ....

Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

Ruth S
Ruth S1 years ago


Danuta W
Danuta W1 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Ron B
Ron B1 years ago

Now that I'm old, I don't seem to sweat quite as much as I used to under the same circumstances. Actually, I kind of like it this way.

william Miller
william M1 years ago


Lenore Kudaka
Lenore K1 years ago


Muff-Anne York-Haley

Sweating does make you feel better!

Sandra Vito
Sandra Vito1 years ago


Sandra Vito
Sandra Vito1 years ago