7 Ways Outdoor Activities Support Your Sobriety

friends hiking

Getting outside and doing something active isn’t just good for your physical health—it also provides a wealth of benefits for individuals in recovery. In fact, it even has a name and is recognized as a beneficial form of therapy.

Wilderness therapy is a type of outdoor treatment that is recognized by the American Psychological Association and 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.1

The best thing about wilderness therapy or outdoor sober activities is that you don’t have to be enrolled in a program to experience the benefits of spending time outdoors. All you have to do is head outside for a bike ride, walk or jog on your nearest bike path, or spend a weekend camping at a local campground. Even these simple outdoor activities can provide a wealth of physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits that will provide sobriety support, long after you’ve completed rehab and sober living.

Whether you just finished rehab, or you’ve been enrolled in a sober living program for months, here are seven specific ways outdoor sober activities can provide sober support 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.

2. Outdoor sober activities are healing.

Outdoor sober 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.2 These are all excellent benefits for someone enrolled in sober living, as many people in addiction recovery are more susceptible to stress.

3. Outdoor sober activities improve your attitude.

Spending time being sober outside doing just about anything can make you feel more positive. Whether it’s a yoga class at the park, a bike ride around your neighborhood, or a swim in the lake, outdoor recreation nature can improve your mindset and help you feel calm, relaxed, and at peace. These activities can also boost your self-confidence. These effects are particularly beneficial for people in recovery who struggle to manage feelings of anxiety and depression.

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

Activities like camping, hiking, kayaking or canoeing can be challenging, both physically and mentally. These things might make you feel uncomfortable, unprepared, or nervous, 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.

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

Oftentimes, outdoor recreation 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 pull away from friends and family. This leads to communication issues and relational problems. People enrolled in a transitional housing and sober living program may be actively working to improve their communication and relationship-building skills, and outdoor recreation can be a great way to practice.

6. Outdoor sober 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 self-confidence. Problem-solving and coping skills are extremely beneficial in the everyday life of a recovering addict and can help people who are enrolled in sober living programs by reducing their risk of relapse and providing additional sober support.

7. Outdoor sober activities are fun.

This may just be one of the most important ways outdoor recreation supports sobriety. As a person recovering from addiction, some days you may find yourself overwhelmed, anxious, tired, depressed, angry, or any other negative emotion. Recovery can be difficult, and your counselor or AA group 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, biking, kayaking, or just reading a good book in your hammock, time spent in nature can be a very enjoyable 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 to stay sober.

Fun Outdoor Sober Activities for Sober Living Residents

If you’re struggling to come up with sober activities you can do outside that will help support your sobriety, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Biking
  • Canoeing/kayaking
  • Star gazing
  • Walking
  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming
  • Sports (basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.)
  • Flying a kite
  • Having a picnic at the park
  • Sledding
  • Snowboarding
  • Skiing
  • Apple or berry picking
  • Going to the Farmer’s Market

If you’re not yet enrolled in a sober living program but you’ve found yourself struggling to stay sober, call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today. Our transitional housing programs and recovery support services are specifically designed to help recovering men and women maintain their sobriety and establish a strong sober support system in the process. Call today to get started.


  1. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/09/therapy-wild.aspx
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494405801847


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