Vigorous and Not-So-Vigorous Exercise

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Recovering porn users often find that vigorous exercise is an excellent mood regulator. Scientists surmise that exercise eases addiction because acute bouts of exercise increase central dopamine concentrations, and chronic exercise leads to sustained increases in dopamine and related adjustments—all in the reward circuitry. A 2015 study found that 8 weeks of exercise significantly increased dopamine D2 receptors in recovering meth addicts. Pretty impressive. Exercise counteracts the chronically low dopamine that haunts recovering addicts until their brains reboot. By decreasing the stress response and increasing neuroplasticy, exercise reduces cravings. (Click on the links below this page for articles and research on exercise and mood.)

exercise aids porn addiction recoveryThe one caveat, aside from health limitations, is that if you get too high on exercise, you may experience a low afterward. If so, try less vigorous exercise.

Here's are typical comments from recovering users:

  • Running 3 times a week feels amazing and keeps me under control.
  • Exercise! Holy crap I cannot say this enough. 'I do not have a gym membership' is NEVER an excuse. I haven't been to the gym, ever. Like not in my life. Start by doing as many push ups as you can do (does not matter if it is a low number), then do the same for situps, crunches, planking, leg lifts (all four; back, side, side, front), and bench dips. Okay, you did as many as you can? Good, now, take the lowest number, and the next night, do that many of every exercise. Then, after that, add 1 rep for every single day!
  • At first, I did not really understand that I was masturbating to relieve anxiety.  It was one of those things where I just couldn't figure out what else to do.  I was so tense, I couldn't work, the weather was shitty, so I couldn't walk, I had nobody to turn to.  It all just sort of happened.  Now, in similar conditions, I do as many push-ups as I can do.  I collapse on the floor, give myself about 4-5 minutes to recover, and do as many as I can do again.  After another recovery, I guess I have endorphins or something surging and the anxiety and stress tends to fade below the good feelings. Strenuous exercise precipitates some soothing effect.
  • Ok an hour ago I was close to relapse I had my dick in my hand and was about to browse through the all page on reddit, where all the gonewild images are. But somehow I got myself to saying no and closing all tabs. That didn't mean success. I have that thing that I start to struggle and then I struggle the whole day and on the end of the day I relapse. Instead of wasting more time on the pc I went out doing one of the most intense workouts I've erver done in my life. I took a cold shower afterwards and now I'm so calm and relaxed. There is not need to fap, because there is no tension left. Total game changer. So the next time when you feel the urge, destroy yourself. Many intense workouts don't require expensive equipment. I just did 3 sets of 25 Burpees, 15 Pullups, 15 Pushups, 25 Burpees and an 80m sprint, for everyone who wants to try out themselves.
  • I've found exercise has increased my mental strength along with my physical strength. I am in an infectiously good mood when I work out regularly.
  • I have really gotten into biking as a new daily activity! It is a perfect way to arrive in a social setting, such as the university library, because by the time I walk into the library, my endorphins are running rapidly and I very eager to be social because I feel so good from the exercise!
  • The other week I was so horny that I was edging, so I embarked upon volume deadlifting. It was so bad I was edging between sets!! which is insane given the weights (compared to body weight) are hardly light, but by the time I had finished, the urges had subsided.
  • Today is day 9. I'm feeling absolutely tremendous. I just did a tae bo workout, and I'm still coming down from the cardio high of that. It's been a long time since I've done any cardio. I used to do it on pretty much a daily basis, but since coming to teacher's college, I've fallen out of the routine. I forgot how good it made me feel. And, now that I've had this reminder, I'm going to try to re-introduce cardio into my routine. Not every day, but maybe a few times a week.
  • Biggest three things I've found helpful:
    1. GETTING OUT and socializing, travelling.
    2. Exercise - use up the excess energy until you can control the beast!
    3. Clean diet - no inflammatory foods, excess proteins etc.
  • Exercise. Do as little or as much as you can. The other day I was so on edge that I started to workout at 11 PM. I wasn't gonna get to sleep anyway, so at least I got a workout in. I used to workout regularly. I am a weightlifter and soccer player. But during porn withdrawal I became so tired and unmotivated that my workouts sucked. My motivation and zeal for working out are coming back.
  • Exercise - I cannot emphasize this enough. Exercise is absolutely necessary for getting beyond even the first day. Specifically, I'd say aerobic is much better - but maybe that's just me. If you're like me, and urges hit you in the morning, exercise in the morning. Even if the extent of what you can do is a brisk walk (whether because of time or lack of athleticism), do it. It can NEVER hurt. There's been a couple posts here about too much exercise, but I'd say unless you've got some kind of heart arrhythmia, this is a bullshit excuse. It's like saying you don't want to lift weights because you don't want to become musclebound like Arnold or Randy Couture. One more thing: If you don't like aerobic, join a 10K training team and run with them in the early mornings. Having people around to motivate you to keep up is a great thing. I give this a 10/10, as in, you absolutely can't do without it. Note: I take (Gracie) Jiu-Jitsu classes. I started about a month ago, and to quote Fight Club, my "ass was a wad of cookie dough, but after a month, it's carved out of wood." Having an exercise routine that involves pain and soreness like jiu-jitsu takes all desire for manual stimulation out of you.
  • Minimize your time on the computer and start working out. I started running late at night. When I get back I take a shower and hit the sack. It puts me to sleep instantly.
  • Brain fog? Boredom? Consider doing a workout session when your foggy. It will definitely alleviate any distress. Yesterday evening I researched local gyms in the area. I found this Martial Arts Self Defense school near my house and signed up. I was there from 7 to 9:30 and came back home drenched in sweat. It was quite a workout! I must say I have never felt better, and today the PMO thoughts have almost completely disappeared. Of course I'm not out of the woods yet, but I now realize that exercise does in fact play a crucial role in my recovery.
  • I hit some of the post-O emotional doldrums earlier this week but I think my mood bounced back really quickly because I'm getting in a good 1-1.5 hours gym time per day. I feel like working out doesn't just take care of you physically, it also enhances every other part of your life. Yoga and meditation too. When you harness your energy and push yourself on those last few reps to the breaking point, you can just feel the testosterone coursing through your blood. And when you meditate or do difficult asanas all your mental energies are focused on one center point, letting your mind release your other tensions. Give your body some pride and self-love and you might be surprised by the results!
  • I was about to relapse when I thought I should try some exercise. In deed it's been a while since I've worked out, almost 3 weeks (I don't count soccer games), perhaps this is a reason for my recent slump. I did a heavy load of core work, lot's of sit ups and crunchers and felt SO MUCH better afterwards. I've been told exercise really helps, and I know this is true, but I kind of forgot how much. I've usually gone with my friend to the gym three times a week to lift but the last couple weeks he's been too tired in the morning and just doesn't get up in time. I'm just going to go by myself tomorrow. I notice how much better I feel in a day I work out at the beginning and I don't just feel better, I'm more alert, concentrate better, and get so much more done. I just love the idea of exercising because it's constructive really, it's about self-improvement.
  • I've had some days of pretty serious depression that have showed up the last 2 times around the 35-day mark (of no PMO). I'm currently feeling pretty depressed in the mornings. I exercised Sunday, Monday and Tuesday despite feeling crappy. I've certainly noticed how much that helps with the depression. I exercised pretty intensely all winter and I felt great despite having more cold and snow here than we've had in years.
  • I wanted to share something that's really helped me --- I was getting more and more unhealthy, when I started a routine called M-100s, and Spartacus workout. Check them out on youtube --- for guys trying to recover, I would highly recommend exercising to one of those every alternate day morning. It enhances will power and takes away any wish to stray. In fact, the only days where I have strayed have been the days I didn't exercise.
  • I find staying in the gym for extended periods of time, but working out less intensely, is about a 9 out of 10 for dealing with porn withdrawal. This tactic works wonders for me for a number of reasons. First off, it murders time at a fast rate. Second, you're working towards a good goal of getting in better shape. Third, when you're done, you're going to be very tired and you'll sleep more, which kills time too. I have no urge to masturbate when I'm extremely tired, so i use that to my advantage.
  • So Im at around 60 days and I discovered the greatest.thing thing that helped my confidence, my perspiration problem and just life in general. Your thinking "Ok what's he going to say that I've heard before? Cold showers? Meditation?" Well yes and yes, but what actually improved my life by I'd say atleast 3X was drumroll please... WORKING OUT. I 100% am positive working out brought me out of my flatline. Not watching porn and working out was what made me feel so amazing.and confident. Now im a big dude, always have been overweight, been bullied.because of it. And Im always one of the jot so fit looking guys in the gym. But my Nofap streak helped me power through workouts
  • Cortisol levels elevate "during" intense exercise but are lower overall. Cortisol always rises during stress, and high intensity exercise is very stressful. Overall because of this, the body becomes better adapted to cortisol and releases less of it during other stressful occasions. The person or mouse becomes better adapted to stress.Depression and addiction run on both sides of my family yet I am almost never sad. And despite experimenting with about every drug out there in my college days, I've never been addicted to anything but M/O. I also handle stress extremely well and, I don't know if this has anything to do with exercising, but I've also never had orgasm hangover symptoms. I attribute that to sports and hard exercise since I was kid.
  • I am on day two, and the urges to look and jerk off have been pretty hardcore today. But after I went and lifted weights for an hour and ran a bit, I came back home and those urges have been gone.
  • I’ve just started a 10-week BWE workout plan. To be honest, my mood wasn’t too good this morning. It was hard to get out of bed. I did my workout for today it went pretty good. After a shower it was already time for lunch, but my mood had turned 180 degree, when I was finished. Managed the afternoon and evening with renewed vigor, and didn’t even turn on the computer with the internet-access. Bottom line: in my eyes, it is crucial that you care about your spiritual and mental strength and on your PHYSICAL STRENGTH as well. To quote my good old friend Matt Furey: “If health reigns supreme, then get up off your ass and train a bit each day. Even if all you have time for is some light stretching and deep breathing exercises, that goes a lot further than plopping in front of the boob tube and wondering why you don’t have any energy.” I agree 100%.
  • Going outside for walks helps. Just get some fresh air.
  • Any exercise is better than none, but over the past few years, what has worked well for me is both aerobic and weight training. I've always been a skinny guy (ectomorph) with a high metabolism, and gaining weight has not been easy. The main thing about weight training for guys is that it allows us to feel like we are comfortable in our bodies. Somehow this translates into less abuse in the way of addictions. Weight training is good for guys who need to find a healthy connection to their bodies. Intuitively, after doing it and feeling the difference, it just feels right. I also feel the increase in testosterone, which seems to affect my general comfort and well-being. For me, weight training is about owning your body and your manhood. Looking back through the years, the times that I have been exerting myself with sports, the more vibrant and better I feel. Prove the benefits to yourself. Do it for a good couple of months, then take it away for a few weeks and note the difference.
  • My solution to the problem of exercise-induced anxiety and depression is to exercise below my "optimum cardiovascular rate". After years of experimentation, that seems to work very well. I can enjoy hours and hours of walking, as long as I keep the heart rate - and therefore the pace - at a lower level.
  • My current reboot record is 30 days, and in the fourth week my energy was through the roof. So much strength and energy. You really should start to exercise a lot. It will release endorphins that work as pain killers. They make you feel good, which is really important during the reboot. Exercising allows you to spend your energy on your health and to prevent yourself from relapsing due to an excess of energy in your body. Oh yeah, and as you'll be more in shape you'll feel more confidence and become even more attractive.
  • I honestly attribute my confidence with women to exercise. The benefits of it are everywhere, but I notice that a lot of my fellow addicts on here are very insecure, while I haven't felt that way since 8th grade (before I started working out). I'm not a bodybuilder or anything but I'm confident in my physical appearance, and I wasn't born good looking or anything. I think what it does to your dopamine system is very impressive.


Dear Marnia and Gary,

When I started my reboot, I took the advice to exercise: weight lifting and some cardio. After a few weeks of exercising, and about 100 days in rebooting, I felt different. I was stronger, way more social, fell in love for the first time since I started watching porn and the most beautiful girls were attracted to me.

I thought that exercising was great for.... everything, so I was doing more and more: 25000 kg per workout. Sudddenly... it happened. After one of these intense workouts I experienced some kind of a system crash. Once again, I became that guy who was hooked on porn: moody, irritable, very intense brain fog and ED. After a few days, I found out about overtraining the central nervous system:

I stopped exercising at the end July and now, after two months, there's not really much of a difference. Still moody, brain fog and sleep problems (waking up 5:30 in the morning instead of 7:30) My concentration and memory are very bad which is not good when you're studying history.

My theory is this: I replaced the PMO-addiction with an exercise addiction. Since exercising also deals with dopamine, I guess that my (partially) repaired dopamine receptors were destroyed once again. I almost have the exact same symptoms compared with when I was addicted (and didn't know the cause of it) and when I was rebooting. There's only one difference: I feel good now after socializing, although some social anxiety returned after I overtrained myself.

What are your thoughts about this? Is there any science for this? Should I expect a new "reboot" from overtraining? By the way, I didn't return to PMO after I overtrained because I knew that things would get worse if I would.

I'm looking forward to read your message!

Gr. Berlin89

Although I don't look like it, I used to train with a world champion power lifter - he was my best friend (many years ago). Anyhow, I know overtraining....very well. Is it your porblem, I don't know.

My theory is this: I replaced the PMO-addiction with an exercise addiction.

Quite possible

Since exercising also deals with dopamine, I guess that my (partially) repaired dopamine receptors were destroyed once again.

I doubt it. From what little they know, dopamine NOT downregulated, nor a re receptors.

I almost have the exact same symptoms compared with when I was addicted (and didn't know the cause of it) and when I was rebooting.

One can have similar symptoms without similar cause. I don't know the neurobiology of overtraining, but muscles cells release hormones that act on the brain to cause fatigue. So much to learn - lots of hormones from the immune system can cause depression, fatigue, brain fog etc as they affect the reward circuit.

What are your thoughts about this? Is there any science for this? Should I expect a new "reboot" from overtraining?

No new reboot. Porn isn't the cause. If it continues, see a doctor. Have an adrenal panel done in addition to anything the doc suggests. Low cortisol can cause such symptoms.