The Program Exercise

Back2Basics Outdoor Adventures believes good nutrition and exercise are integral parts to drug addiction and alcohol abuse recovery.

Current relapse prevention models suggest that addicts in the early stages of recovery (first year of sobriety) can benefit immensely from minutes of exercise daily, getting their heart rate up to 70% of its maximum heart rate. Back2Basics believes good nutrition and physical exercise are two Life Skills components that are important aspects of addiction recovery.

Exercise helps generate the dopamine levels in the brain, which may have been depleted through heavy drug and alcohol use and abuse, which is extremely beneficial for addicts and alcoholics.

Flagstaff Athletic Club

Exercise for addiction recovery

Back2Basics goal in working with the Flagstaff Athletic Club, to ensure residents have the most experienced professionals available when participating in regular gym-type exercise activities. The Flagstaff Athletic Club works with residents directly in a safe, healthy, constructive environment. Use of free weights and cardio machines allow residents to begin to gain a sense of self-confidence.

Qigong/Kung Fu

Studies suggest that a healthy holistic exercise and nutrition plan will increase the prospect of long term sobriety. Kung Fu/ Health Promotions Instructor Ben Scharfenberger leads dailyQigong classes – literally translated as “energy work“. Qigong is an ancient system of health promotion and maintenance that blends movement, breath, posture and intention.

As a principle tenant of Chinese Medicine, qigong is similar to the notion of therapeutic exercise within Western biomedicine and yoga within Indian ayurvedic medicine. According to modern biophysics theory, the human body is most accurately described as an energetic system that is constantly transferring energy between itself and the outside environment: externally and between the body’s various organ systems internally. Qigong aims to maximize the relationship between the body’s center of gravity and the constant play between gravity and ground reaction forces, which the Chinese eloquently describe as the energy of “Heaven” and “Earth.” By properly developing one’s “center,” through consistent qigong practice, all energy exchange becomes increasingly efficient and the body itself is developed into a singular integral unit.

This coordinated integration of the human experience, generated from long term qigong practice, enhances well-being and yields many health benefits, most notably the anti-aging and longevity effects celebrated within many qigong lineages. Other health benefits include enhanced functioning of the body’s cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, neurological, and muscular-skeletal systems. Qigong practice has also been noted to enhance feelings of calm and focus, as well as improve the general psychology of the practitioner.

The Benefits of Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Exercise, like all things in recovery, should be taken in moderation. In order for an exercise program to work, it needs to be both consistent and frequent. Make time to exercise at least four times a week, and give yourself at least an hour per session.


  • Increases the metabolic rate so that calories are burned more efficiently even when at rest.
  • Burns fat stores and builds up muscle tissue. Muscle cells are metabolically active and burn calories, whereas fat cells are inert.
  • Increases free fatty acids, which better enable the body to process and utilize dietary fats.
  • Decreases total serum cholesterol and increased levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), the “good fats” associated with lower risk of heart disease.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases the levels of mood-elevating neurochemicals–such as the endorphins, so that we feel better mentally as well as physically.

Swimming for addiction recovery

Aerobic exercises are those that cause the body to use large amounts of oxygen (and burn calories) and prompt the heart and pulse rate to rise through steady, constant movement.
Aerobic exercises tend to involve the large muscle groups, such as those of the legs and arms.

They include: walking – jogging – cycling – swimming – rowing – step training – cross country skiing stair climbing – other active sports such as tennis or volleyball.

Anaerobic exercise develops muscular strength and flexibility and without necessarily increasing the pulse or heart rate. Anaerobic exercises include: weight training – calisthenics.

Getting an exercise program started:

  • Choose an activity you like
  • Choose your location
  • Start slow
  • Use appropriate dress
  • Listen to your body’s cues
  • Stick with it



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