Being active is good for people who are recovering from substance addiction. When coupled with evidence-based therapies like counseling, activities like exercising, or adventure therapy, have been shown to be effective for enhancing recovery and helping individuals keep relapse at bay.

Even so, not everyone is up for lifting weights or training to run a marathon. Many people dislike working out in gyms or spending multiple days a week in a gym. There are many other ways to enhance one’s fitness level and keep yourself entertained without hitting the gym. Adventure activities can foster enjoyable new experiences, learning, new friendships and a greater sense of personal empowerment and well-being.

You don’t have to be athletic or even a thrill seeker to enjoy adventure activities. There are many outdoor adventures that are compatible with a range of skill sets and fitness levels. The key is to choose one or several that seem enjoyable. Getting out into the fresh air, meeting new people, and trying new things can enhance your recovery journey.

Making major life changes that are necessary for sober living can be challenging, but outdoor therapy programs and adventures for recovery offer people a refreshing new experience that can alleviate stress and promote positive living. If you are recovering from substance addiction, consider the following activities that may be able to improve your recovery journey too.

Whitewater Rafting

North America brims with water courses that are perfect for rafting. Whitewater rafting requires a basic level of fitness as rafters are required to paddle—sometimes strenuously.

There are also adventurous rafting trips that avoid the choppy rapids. These smooth stretches of water allow rafters to enjoy views of the river and surrounding landscapes. Rafting with a group can foster teamwork, positive social interactions and help to develop self-reliance. This type of adventure experience can promote positive development, which can enhance the recovery process.

If the idea of white-knuckling it through a whitewater rafting trip doesn’t appeal to you, just remember that there are rafting trips designed for calm waters too. Each region of the U.S features major rivers and water courses that are popular with rafters of all skill levels.


People who have suffered from addiction may feel out of sorts well into their recovery journey. Spending time in the woods camping and focusing on basic needs like food and shelter can be an effective way to reduce stress and relinquish all the complexities of modern living for a period of time. There are many campgrounds strewn throughout the country—near famous landmarks or in national and state parks. Camping alone or even with friends can have a positive impact on recovery.

Horseback Riding

Many people recovering from addiction have opted for equine therapy, a complementary addiction therapy that pairs individuals with horses. While equine therapy is part of a formal treatment plan, horseback riding is something a person can do anytime.

Many local stables specialize in guided horseback tours and trips. Bonding with a horse even for a short trip can be cathartic as well as adventuresome. Even if you have never been horseback riding before, you can start at any age. Simply locate stables that offer training for novice and intermediate horseback riding.


Hiking is a great way to enhance fitness and promote mindfulness. Hiking is also something people do in all kinds of weather—even during winter. Depending on where you live or where you want to travel, you can plan for desert hikes, mountain hikes or national park hikes.

The physical activity involved in walking releases feel-good endorphins in the body and brain. These endorphins can reduce muscle pain and enhance your mood too. If you’re suffering from stress, hiking can help you let it go. Hiking also tends to be a cheap activity, so you don’t have to invest in much more than a good pair of hiking boots to enjoy this pursuit.

Rock Climbing

If you find it difficult to focus, rock climbing could be the ideal adventure activity for you. Rock climbing requires an intense focus on footing and hand placement. In this way, it gives the mind a break from whatever is preventing it from focusing or whatever is causing stress.

Rock climbing requires a degree of athletic ability. However, many people choose to take up this sport indoors at venues with climbing walls. Even if you are new to this pursuit, you can begin by learning the basics and grow from there. Rock climbing can be dangerous, so it’s important to develop your skill sets before venturing outdoors to climb in natural settings.


If you enjoy being out on the water—the lake or even the sea—consider taking up kayaking. Kayaking requires some skill, but these skills aren’t difficult to pick up. Paddling a small craft on the water can develop upper arm strength and improve cardiovascular health.

On the other hand, this pastime can have a positive impact on mental health too. Kayaking can be a good way to practice mindfulness. It can be a time for meditation, but it can also be adventuresome too. Navigating watercourses or witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat can be exhilarating.

Deep Sea Fishing

Fishing at a local pond can enhance your recovery journey. If you enjoy fishing but want some adventure to go with it, consider booking a deep-sea fishing trip. Many operators offer group deep-sea fishing tours so you don’t even have to charter your own boat. Fishing with a group enables you to meet new people with a shared interest.

Aquatic Sports

For some people, sitting in a boat is still too far from the water. If you’re a person who enjoys being in the water, you might try an adventuresome sport like water-skiing, paddle boarding or snorkeling. Even just swimming can be an enlivening experience that enhances fitness.

Look for beaches or a lake near your home where you can visit frequently. If you live near the sea, see if you can find groups that enjoy these pastimes together. Getting out on the water with others can widen your social circle, allowing you to share new experiences with people who enjoy similar pursuits.


Downhill skiing is an exhilarating outdoor activity, but even cross-country skiing has its adventurous charms. Skiing requires balance and some athletic skill, but it’s not an activity you have to be an expert to enjoy. You can start out with the basics and improve your skill set over time.

Skiing is a great way to enhance your fitness level and improve your mood. Mood management is important for the recovery journey, as negative emotions can trigger the stages of relapse.


Remember the carefree days you spent as a kid on the seat of your bike. Many cities feature bike trails and paths, but not everyone prefers to ride in solitude. Bike excursions designed as group activities are held all over the country.

Biking is excellent for cardiovascular health, but it has the power to refresh your mind and lift your spirits too. If you haven’t biked in a while, take up this pursuit slowly, riding short distances at first to build up your endurance. In time, you might be ready to sign on for longer group rides and races.

Canyoneering and Cave Exploration

Exploration is another pastime that allows you to spend quality time outdoors. Exploring natural features like canyons and caves is something you don’t have to be overly athletic to enjoy. There are many natural features all over the country that attract amateur cave explorers as well as geology and archaeology enthusiasts. There are often group tours and exploration experiences that you can sign up for. Although the experience might be enjoyed over a weekend or a few days, it could involve days or even weeks of preparation as you read up on the landscape you intend to visit.

Adventure Park

Many operators have established adventure parks within forest preserves or on dynamic landscapes. These parks pride themselves on delivering adventure to the people and groups that visit. These parks frequently feature zip-line tours, obstacles courses, rope climbing and other recreational activities that promote skill development, fitness and fun. Many of these parks feature special programming for groups in order to foster collaboration and communication. This type of activity can be therapeutic for people who are recovering from an addiction.

Solitude is fine if it leads to positive feelings and personal growth. If you miss socializing, be sure to try these activities with someone else or with a group. Meeting new people can enhance your recovery process, just as exciting new activities can lift your spirits and brighten your days. As you work through your recovery process, it’s important to fill your time with activities that encourage positive emotions. When you make a habit of being positive, you can better manage the triggers that can lead to relapse.