How Can Exercise Positively Impact Mental Health?

posted in Recovery, Treatment
benefits of exercise

Mental illness is not easy to live with each day. Even if there is a diagnosis, it is pretty tough to deal with.

Exercise is one-way people positively experience mental health support. Getting outside in nature is difficult but it is necessary. Through several battles of mental health and physical health issues, people may not know how to get back on track with fitness and nutrition.

They lose the tools and resources to get on their feet after time spent with an addiction. The family may be ready to support their loved one but they are not sure how to do that. 

Barriers to Treatment

When people seek help for mental health issues, they are not always sure what to ask for. They may know they haven’t felt like themselves in ages but don’t exactly know why or how to ask for help.

Mental health medication and therapy are available but not always accessible. It costs money and resources to access that level of care.

The most common areas of stigma are mental illness and treatments like medication and therapy. Side effects of treatment costs of therapy or interventions are rough.

The other barriers of stigma to reach out for help depends on the audience. If people are working as first responders and served in a war or as a veteran, they may experience some backlash from people. It is hard to reach out for help but the stigma still exists around talking about addiction issues. 

Why Exercise is Beneficial

Exercise has been reviewed by people for many years as a way to boost mental health in a positive way. Depression, anxiety, and mental health concerns are difficult to navigate without getting up and moving.

The most benefits people get are due to elevated mood from exercise that boosts the immune system and dopamine product. This helps the body naturally produce chemicals that make someone feel lighter and better.

Exercise can be used as a stand-alone treatment for mild to moderate conditions or to help someone feel better. Medicine can increase brain neurotransmitter activity much like some drugs do, which is why some people struggle with crossover addiction to exercise. They are not able to give up the feeling they get when they work out a lot and have those rushes of chemicals. 

Other Key Benefits

If exercise is so great for the body and mind, it is a wonder more people don’t do it. The reason people with addiction and mental health struggle is because they don’t have control over their mind and body yet that they begin to rediscover in recovery.

While addicted to substances, it can be hard to get motivated to do anything. For people who are high functioning, they may continue doing what they always do, but their brains and bodies are dependent on the chemicals to keep them going. To help heal the mind and body, it helps to look at the benefits that await on the other side.

Improved Confidence

People with addiction may struggle with confidence. It is hard to feel good when the brain and body feel like they are at unrest.

Improved self-esteem comes with greater mental health. When in recovery, a person can work on building their confidence back up.

Exercise increases a person’s bodily awareness and self-efficacy. It builds positive self-acceptance, loving-kindness, and positivity. These concepts help a person move forward in recovery with a positive outlook. 

Motivation to Succeed

Getting motivated is tough but, once a person gets moving, they seem to move faster and grow more quickly. The muscles and body need time to adapt to new routines.

This means getting motivated will take time. Motivation is a skill to be learned and improved upon with time. Change how exercise is viewed to embrace the motivation to succeed. 

Build Resilience

Resilience is the power to come back from adversity. The roadblocks in recovery that show up may seem tough, but exercise and working out help build these muscles to be strong.

To build resilience to difficult times, exercise kicks up the mood, boosts energy and helps people rebuild their lives. Whatever roadblocks happen, it is easier to overcome when people face them together with the community. Resilience also means finding support for the journey ahead.

Meet Goals

Goal planning and the setting are part of recovery. It means setting goals and knocking them down one at a time.

The hardest part is to figure out how to recalibrate goals based on previous expectations. Life is not just what happened in the past.

Today is a new day to look ahead and find hope for the long road ahead. Goals can be recalibrated and shifted to make room for new ones but there should be some steadfast goals that help people take positive steps forward to heal and find hope.

With the right team of people in place, a person can thrive in recovery with some simple tools. They don’t have to be crazy goals, just some simple ways to build momentum for the next months and years ahead.

Work on keeping those goals at the forefront of life and not on the backburner. This will help build momentum, especially when it comes to exercise, health, and wellness goals. 


Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.

Call us today: 1-888-224-7312