7 Ways Outdoor Activities Support Your Sobriety

Hi there, thanks for joining me. This podcast is all about sharing positive advice and wisdom for daily life in recovery. In this episode, I’m going to share 7 ways that outdoor activities can support your sobriety.

Getting outside and doing something active isn’t just good for your physical health—it also provides several great benefits for people in recovery. In fact, wilderness therapy is recognized as a beneficial form of therapy by the American Psychological Association. Research studies show that many of these programs provide significant improvements in clients’ overall motivation, life skills, interpersonal relationships, hope, self-confidence, and emotional control.

The best thing about wilderness therapy and outdoor activities is that you don’t have to be enrolled in a rehab program to experience the benefits of spending time outdoors. All you have to do is head outside. Even simple activities like a walk or a bike ride can provide so many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits that will support your sobriety.

So, if you’re newly sober and looking for ways to enhance your substance-free lifestyle, here are seven specific ways outdoor sober activities can provide support a life in recovery.

  1. Outdoor sober activities provide opportunities for emotional discovery.

Being sober outside and spending time in nature can provide important time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. For example, hiking through the forest requires you to be more aware of your surroundings and of yourself. This heightened sense of self-awareness can lead to revealing emotional discovery and exploration as you embark on both a physical and an emotional journey.

  1. Outdoor activities are healing.

Outdoor activities are fun but they’re also physically healing. Dozens of research studies have shown that outdoor recreation improves attention, cultivate a more positive attitude, and improve mindfulness and awareness of one’s own senses and perceptions. Research also shows that outdoor activity greatly reduces stress, which is an extra perk for people in recovery.

  1. Outdoor sober activities improve your attitude.

Spending time being sober outside doing just about anything can make you feel much more positive. Whether it’s a yoga class at the park or a bike ride around your neighborhood, outdoor recreation can improve your mindset and help you feel calm, relaxed, and at peace. These activities can also boost your self-confidence and help you manage those feelings of anxiety and depression when they set in.

  1. Outdoor sober activities push you beyond your comfort zone.

Activities like camping, kayaking, or canoeing can be challenging, both physically and mentally. These things might make you feel uncomfortable, especially if you don’t have much experience doing them. Although being pushed outside of your comfort zone can sometimes be unpleasant, activities that challenge you in this way can help you develop self-efficacy as well as establish a sense of purpose and belonging, all of which are very important in addiction recovery.

  1. Outdoor activities improve communication and your ability to work with others.

Outdoor recreation often involves some type of group activity, which provides endless opportunities for improving communication, teamwork, and sobriety support. During active addiction, drug and alcohol abusers tend to isolate themselves and they pull away from their friends and family. This leads to communication problems and relational issues. If you’re in recovery, you may be actively working to improve your communication and relationship-building skills, and outdoor recreation can be a great way to practice.

  1. Outdoor activities help you develop problem-solving skills.

When you spend time being sober outside, you’ll be challenged to improve yourself in more ways than one. By rising to these challenges, you are continually developing your problem-solving skills while also learning how to surrender control, cope with the unexpected, and build up your self-confidence. Problem-solving and coping skills are extremely beneficial in everyday life and they can even help reduce your risk of relapse.

  1. Outdoor activities are fun.

This may just be the most important way outdoor recreation supports sobriety. As a person in recovery, some days you may find yourself overwhelmed, anxious, tired, angry, or any other negative emotion. Recovery can be difficult, and your counselor or AA sponsor may not always have all the answers. In challenging transitional times like this, it’s important to make time for fun and for the things you enjoy. Whether it’s nature walks, kayaking, or just reading a good book in your hammock, time spent in nature can be very enjoyable and a good way to spend your free time.


Addiction recovery comes with its own unique set of challenges, but outdoor recreation provides several distinct advantages for people who are working hard to stay sober.

That concludes episode seven of the Sober Now podcast and I hope you’ve found it useful! If you have questions, comments, or want to suggest a topic for our next episode, email me at kelsey.brown@novarecoverycenter.com.

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