How Running Helps Addiction Recovery

Disclaimer: I’m promoting Back on My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 5K/10K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews!

Previously I spoke about the mission of Back on My Feet, an organization which uses running therapy to help the homeless, literally get back on their feet. Back on My Feet finds individuals at homeless and addiction facilities around the country. 

There have been numerous stories of people using running to fight addiction. Ali Nolan wrote an article for Runners World July 2017 describing a teenage girl in a juvenile detention center being saved by running. Shawn Livingston, an Army Veteran, claims running is his medicine and helped him overcome heroin addiction. 

There are two explanations as to why running is an answer to battling addiction, one is scientific and the other is social. 

Runner’s World explains scientifically how running could be the answer to beating addiction. There are studies available which show aerobic exercise rebalancing neurotransmitters thus reducing substance craving and repairing damaged parts of the brain. There’s definitely an correlation between physical activity and drug responders. Running also releases dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. 

John Tavolacci, a 22 time marathoner and recovering addict, explains how running helps him socially. He says addicts want to fit in and be accepted and running allows that supportive community for recovery. The sense of belonging and connection is used within multiple running recovery programs. Some would add that running brings a sense of accomplishment. 

Whether a person runs for recovery or meditation, enjoying the healing powers of running is unmatched to anything else. To those battling addiction; you matter and you are loved. 

If you’re in the Chicago area, join Back on My Feet by running the Mardi Gras Chaser 5/10K on Saturday March 2, 2019. Register HERE and support this amazing program. Use promo code “BR5OFF” at checkout, good for $5 off either distance!

Works Cited

Cho, Yoojin. “Overcoming Drug Addiction to Marathon Finish Line, an Army Vet Shares His Story.” KXAN, KXAN, 16 Feb. 2019,

Daniloff, Caleb. “Why Running Could Be the Answer to Beating Addiction.” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 9 Jan. 2019,

Nolan, Ali. “Eminem’s Song Propelled My High-School Team of Troubled Girls, but Now I Can’t Get It out of My Head.” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 20 June 2018,

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