Exercise and Fitness

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Exercise: An Integral Part of Our Programme

Fitness in Recovery

Patients usually enter treatment in a poor physical state, however, incorporating regular exercise into their recovery programme can help provide them with the physical strength they need to overcome addiction.

Exercise increases blood flow around the body and to the brain thus increasing energy levels and mental alertness.

It also suppresses alcohol and drug cravings, helping motivate patients in their recovery.

Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins which increase positivity and reduce depression and anxiety, both of which can lead to relapse.

At Castle Craig, we ensure that all patients enjoy at least three fitness sessions per week so they can begin building new healthy habits that help support their recovery. 

Why Is Exercise in Addiction Recovery So Important?

Working out is an important element of addiction recovery because it provides a variety of physical and mental health benefits that have been shown to help people abstain from drug use with more ease and long-term success.

In fact, there are well-tested correlations between exercise and addiction recovery.

Physical activity releases endorphins in the body, such as dopamine and serotonin—the same endorphins released when you use addictive substances. However, the natural high from exercise helps to reintroduce these feel-good chemicals to your body without the negative side effects that come from drug addiction.

Regular exercise can also help those in recovery to create new neural pathways in the brain. This helps your brain heal from the physiological consequences of substance abuse. Exercising also generally improves your physical health and energy levels, which makes it easier to resist cravings.

When you work out regularly, you improve your cardiovascular system.

Consequently, oxygen and vital nutrients begin to flow through your body more efficiently. This helps your body to grow stronger and maintain energy levels throughout the day, which in turn makes it easier to complete daily tasks and improves your ability to continue living substance-free.

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What Are the Benefits of Exercise in Recovery?

When you’re just starting your journey to healing from addiction, it can feel exciting but also daunting. By including exercise in your recovery plan, you can enjoy a host of benefits that make it easier to resist drug cravings and prevent relapse. In fact, studies show that incorporating exercise into your recovery plan can increase the abstinence rate from substance use by up to 95 per cent. More. The most notable proven benefits of exercise for people in addiction recovery include:

  1. Increased Mood and Energy Levels

Many people struggle with low moods and decreased energy when they’re first in recovery. This is normal, as your body is readjusting to life without alcohol or drugs—which can be a taxing process on your body and mind. Working out helps your body adjust to a sober lifestyle by teaching it to produce its own feel-good chemicals.

The endorphins released when you exercise not only lift your mood, they can also help you to feel energized throughout the day. Both of these outcomes help you to feel better and stay sober with more ease. 

  1. Reduced Stress

Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol is understandably stressful on the body. When you incorporate exercise early on during the process, you can help to naturally relieve that stress so that recovery feels less anxiety-inducing. In addition, stress is often a leading contributor to the development of substance abuse issues.

Implementing new healthy habits that naturally reduce stress, such as exercise, is important when you’re in recovery. In the future, these foundational habits will give you new outlets to burn off stress and feel more relaxed, when in the past you may have turned to drugs or alcohol. 

  1. Improved Sleep

A solid night’s rest lays the foundation for your health. When people first enter treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, it’s common to struggle with sleep as your body adjusts to all the changes you’re going through. Fatigue can lead to poor decision-making, low moods, and stress, all of which make it more difficult to continue the path of recovery.

Plus, many people struggling with addiction grow to rely on a substance to fall asleep.

When you work out regularly, you help your body restore its natural sleep processes so you can enjoy all the benefits of quality rest. 

  1. Strengthened Self-Image

Taking care of yourself by exercising in recovery boosts your self-esteem over time. Working out helps to reinforce a positive body image and increase your confidence in your ability to complete challenging tasks. This improves your sense of faith in yourself, something that many people entering recovery find themselves struggling with.

When you can prove to yourself that you have it within you to finish a run or complete a yoga class and feel great afterwards, this has a positive effect on your motivation to change old behaviours and continue enjoying life in recovery. 

  1. Routine and Structure to Fill Your Time

One of the more difficult aspects of becoming sober is finding healthy activities to fill your time and thoughts.

Keeping yourself busy—during early recovery in particular—is especially important. Adding exercise to your daily routine is a wonderful option for this, giving you a productive activity that makes you feel good and redirects your focus away from any drug cravings that may arise. 

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Why You Should Avoid Excessive Exercise

Recovery is about healing yourself from the inside out through nourishing and long-lasting behaviours. Working out on a consistent basis is undeniably beneficial for your health, but that doesn’t mean it can’t progress into an unhealthy habit for some people. If you begin to push yourself to new extremes when exercising, you may be developing a new addiction or unhealthy habit.

Regular physical activity is safe for the majority of people, and adaptations can be made for people with mobility difficulties.

But it’s still possible to overdo it. Some people find themselves craving exercise in a similar way to drugs or alcohol, and there’s evidence that exercise addiction occurs more often in those who have had another addiction. Not to mention, exercising excessively can cause injuries, exhaustion, and anxiety, all of which distract from your healing process.

Focus on getting moderate physical activity that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. At Castle Craig, we make this simple by supporting your recovery journey with regular opportunities for exercise and a beautiful estate to enjoy physical activity outdoors. 

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How to Incorporate Exercise Into Your Routine

Experts recommend about 150 minutes of exercise every week. That breaks down to just over 20 minutes every day, or 30 minutes five days a week. It’s a good idea to start slow, especially if you haven’t been regularly working out. There are a wide variety of ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life, from walking and jogging to yoga and strength training. 

This makes it that much more likely that you’ll stick to the habit and maintain a consistent routine. Whether it’s swimming, cycling, dancing, or weightlifting, there’s a form of exercise out there you’ll truly have fun doing.

Don’t be afraid to try new forms of physical activity until you find what you like. Getting started can be the most challenging step when it comes to exercise, which is why experimenting with different activities can keep things fun and interesting so you’re more likely to stick with it for the long term. 

Exercise is an important part of the programme

Fitness at Castle Craig

Fitness is an integral part of our treatment programme, and we make sure that all patients have a minimum of three fitness sessions per week. On top of this, many patients use their spare time to walk or jog around our extensive gardens.

Our Gym and Fitness Instructors

Our gym is equipped with cardio equipment, weights and a PowerPlate. In addition, our qualified fitness staff are always on hand to offer you advice and motivation. Fitness activities available at Castle Craig include aerobics, pilates, yoga stretching and circuit training. Our fitness team is led by experienced trainer David Kilgour. You’ll receive a detailed assessment as a new patient at Castle Craig, as well as supervision throughout the fitness programme.

Outdoor Exercise

Our extensive grounds are ideal for outdoor activities such as walking, hill walking, jogging, football, and volleyball. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with a variety of workouts while also enjoying the fresh air and beautiful natural scenery of the Scottish countryside. 

Yoga and Pilates

We provide weekly yoga or pilates sessions for our patients in primary care treatment. Both of these activities incorporate mindfulness, which has been shown to help improve self-regulation of addictive behaviour as well as overall self-awareness. 


If moderate or strenuous activity is outside of your current capabilities, we have other options so that you can still enjoy the benefits of exercise during recovery. For example, yoga can be too vigorous for some of our patients, such as those going through detox or those with mobility problems. Our fitness instructors can provide lighter stretching exercises in this case. 

Exercise: An Integral Part of Rehab

Here at Castle Craig, we support you in every aspect of your recovery from addiction. That includes making sure you have ample opportunity to take care of your body and mind through exercise that makes you feel good and helps you create positive new daily habits. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, get in touch today to talk with our team of compassionate addiction specialists who are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How Can Castle Craig Help?

How Do I Pay For Rehab?

One concern we sometimes hear from people is how they will fund their rehab treatment. The cost of rehab varies depending on what kind of accommodation you choose. You can pay for treatment at Castle Craig privately, or through medical insurance, and some people receive funding through the NHS.

How Long Is the Rehab Programme?

Residential rehab treatment starts at 4 weeks and can go up to 12+ weeks. Research shows us that the longer you stay in rehab and are part of the residential therapy programme, the longer the likelihood of continued abstinence and stable recovery.

Who Will I Speak to When I Call?

When you call you will reach our Help Centre team who will give you all the information you need to help you decide whether to choose treatment at Castle Craig. Once you have decided that you would like to have a free screening assessment you will be put in touch with our admissions case managers who will guide you through the admissions process.

What Happens at the End of My Treatment?

Castle Craig thoroughly prepares patients before departure by creating a personalised continuing care plan which is formulated following discussions with the medical and therapeutic team. We offer an online continuing care programme which runs for 24 weeks after leaving treatment, in order to ensure a smooth transition back into your everyday life. Patients leaving treatment automatically join our Recovery Club where they can stay connected via our annual reunion, events, online workshops and recovery newsletters.

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