To achieve optimal integration of the benefits of exercise and sport into SUD recovery, key factors such as, among others, the contribution and training of all stakeholders for the proper implementation of exercise and sport programs, the integration of research into clinical services to evaluate and ensure that the exercise programs a) are based on scientific data and b) adequately meet the purpose for which they were implemented, are required.

Recommendations for practical application are aimed at SUD recovery providers and SUD recovery counselors, including sports educators working in the field, as well as future researchers who want to explore the field, to provide the appropriate support to improve their services, whether that means developing and supporting new integrated exercise programs that do not currently exist or improving existing ones. This includes addressing the difficulties of designing, implementing, and evaluating exercise programs, thereby facilitating their incorporation into SUD recovery.

Key messages

Exercise and sport programs are a promising, affordable, and easily accessible complementary treatment option for SUD recovery because…

• Can improve physical and mental health, thereby improving the quality of life and well-being of individuals living with SUD

• Have a positive impact on the social functioning of individuals living with SUD

• Individuals living with SUD can benefit from a social and emotional environment, as well as experiential learning and education

• Can be utilized as a “here and now” intervention in SUD recovery, as well as a lifelong behavior for individuals living with SUD

• It can enhance the management of leisure time for individuals living with SUD by diverting unproductive leisure time

• Are promising, accessible, and straightforward strategies for individuals living with SUD, in building their human capital through the development of life skills

• Can support individuals living with SUD to seek jobs and enhance their employability

Exercise and sports participation should be a crucial component of any prevention strategy

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