The Power of Breath and Exercise for Addiction Recovery


Exercise is a fantastic supplement to any form of addiction treatment. It helps the brain regrow damaged pathways, rebalances neurotransmitters, provides relief from withdrawal symptoms, and acts as a useful distraction from cravings. It's clear that exercise improves both your mental and physical health. But, few people know that proper breathing is a key aspect of effective exercise and is necessary for supporting a healthy mind. Here's how to maintain a healthy routine that focuses on physical fitness and mental relaxation.

The Best Exercises for Addiction Recovery

If you haven’t exercised in a while, it can be difficult to jump into a fitness routine. So, it’s best to start out with some light activity. Take a hike in nature, go swimming, or dive into a yoga practice. These types of exercise are great ways to introduce your body to exercise without straining your muscles, joints, or organs.

Yoga, specifically, focuses on the mind-body connection, making it a valuable way to learn about yourself and how your thoughts connect with and inform the actions of your physical body. Many people feel that yoga lets them observe where their emotions come from and learn how to deal with negative thoughts in a positive way.

Breathing Properly During Exercise

We all know how to breathe. But, did you know the way that we breathe actually plays an important role in how we feel during and after exercise? When we're engaging our bodies in physical movement, efficient breathing allows for the proper delivery of oxygen to our cells and organs.

The best way to breathe varies across different intensities and types of exercise. However, the important thing to remember is that your breath should always come from your diaphragm, not your chest. This means that you should feel your stomach expand every time you breathe.

Breathing properly is one of the most important aspects of a yoga practice. According to Yoga Journal, there are 5 different basic breathing techniques that can be used. The first is breath awareness, which involves simply being aware of your breathing patterns. Other techniques involve different variations on breathing to elicit calming or energizing effects in the body.

Meditation for the Troubled Mind

Though exercise is an important aspect of a healthy addiction recovery, so is taking the time to relax. Meditation is an excellent way to accomplish this. According to Psychology Today, meditation allows us to see areas of resistance and origins of negativity within us, as well as teaches how to let them go. Aside from this, meditation is beneficial because it lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the blood. The act of sitting calmly tells the brain that it's okay to relax because the body is safe. Breathing is an important part of training your mind to rest. Controlled breathing helps reduce the stress response, while focusing on your breath keeps your mind from wandering during meditation.

Creating a Meditation Space to Facilitate Recovery

Try creating a peaceful space in your home dedicated to meditation. Having a familiar space for your practice will help your body learn to relax there. It can be a room, a deck, or even a quiet corner of your house. This space should be free from distractions, including meaningless clutter or objects that evoke unpleasant thoughts. Instead, consciously select a few simple items for your space that make you feel calm and happy. Importantly, make sure the temperature and lighting are both comfortable. You may want to open the windows to let in sunlight, or draw the blinds and light a candle. Do what makes you feel most at ease!

Engaging in regular physical activity, relaxation, and deep breathing exercises are valuable tools for people facing addiction recovery. These habits can help replace the negative behaviors associated with addiction. When done regularly, these activities can improve your mental health and help you fall into a long-term healthy routine.

about the writer

Justin is an author and the creator of, a site dedicated to collecting valuable fitness resources from across the web.