I am no scientist, but I do know that in early sobriety, running saved my ass. A quick Google validates that sentiment. Exercise produces neurochemicals in the brain, like endorphins, whose job it is to reduce the perception of pain and act as a sedative, similar to morphine (so dope dope, yes!). The other one it elevates is dopamine and since alcohol used to do that, I'd say a good run is a healthy replacement. And yes, my exercise of choice was and is the run. Gyms just don't appeal to me, aside from the umphfshhumphfshhumphfshh of the house music that makes me want to shove hot spikes under my nails, the introvert in me much prefers the solitude of a run.
A solitary exercise with one caveat though: thousands of podcaster friends yakking in my ear saved my ass as well. I won't go into the lists of all the podcasts I love, but I've been listening to them since 2009, so I've racked up a gamut of favorites. In the beginning, my go-tos were definitely in the inspirational/spiritual genre. And I definitely loaded up on comedy because you can't forget to laugh, especially in early sobriety, it's a great antithesis to crying. It took me three months to find a recovery community, much less recovery podcasts (maybe a story for another post), so I'm not kidding when I say this kept me from drinking. It got me out of my house and out of my head and inspired some insightful journal entries as well.
Now that I do have some time and a recovery community behind me, running is now a form of moving meditation. Ellen Langer, who authored Mindfulness in the 80's, describes mindfulness as just actively noticing things and any kind of meditation can be a sort of means to that end. Once, I counted dead frogs on my run. There were 22, by the way. I stopped to take pictures of my favorite springtime blooms in my hood, saw empty robin's egg shells, butterfly wings, once noticed a discarded, whole pecan pie (serious crimes against humanity). The point is, I started noticing all of these very small, beautiful things that before went unnoticed and were certainly insignificant. It felt like a whole new world had opened up, and that's not just a metaphor. It has made the experience that much more rich.
So perhaps running doesn't make me give less ducks about things that are important, and that's a good thing. But the unimportant things that used to consume me, things that were out of my control, things that used to baffle me, I have a lot less ducks to give and I have to credit a lot of that to running. The witching hour voices got a lot quieter the farther I was from my kitchen...so did my precious childrens', come to think of it, so bonus. You don't have to be training for a marathon, just don those kicks and take off!