Rob Lowe Talks Replacing Alcohol With Exercise

By Kelly Burch 01/24/19

“It became an outlet for all of the tension, stresses, compulsivity. I funneled the addiction, frankly, into that,” said the Parks & Rec actor. 

Rob Lowe

More than 28 years ago, actor Rob Lowe hit the gym to convince himself that he didn’t have a substance abuse problem. As long as he could run breakneck sprints—a quarter-mile in 60 seconds—he told himself he was okay, Lowe said in a recent interview with Men’s Health.

Although he never lost the ability to do the sprints, at some point his alcohol abuse was undeniable. When he got sober 28 years ago he made exercise his coping mechanism. 

“It became an outlet for all of the tension, stresses, compulsivity,” said Lowe, who got sober when he was 26. “I funneled the addiction, frankly, into that.” 

Today, workouts are still part of the recovery program that Lowe works every day. His mornings begin with a run or a spin routine, before doing weights or circuit training. He forces himself to be present in the moment, giving himself a mental as well as a physical workout, sans music. 

“I don’t want to have the smoothie stand. I don’t want to look at beautiful women when I work out. I like the forced mental solitude of it,” said Lowe. “Inevitably, it will force you to start working through things you’re not going to if you’re listening to Jay-Z.”

His sons, who are 23 and 25, introduced him to surfing, and now he is more skilled at the sport than they are. It appealed to him because it complements his recovery. 

Lowe said, “You’re always chasing a high that you’re probably not going to ever repeat. Conditions change, so no waves ever just stay the same. Nothing can ever stay the same. Nothing.”

However, Lowe’s love for exercise isn’t all about high-brow beliefs. He admits that he loves to look good, saying, “Men deny having vanity—that’s the greatest vanity. Not me. I’m vain as fuck.”

In addition to his workouts, Lowe maintains a strict diet inspired by Atkins. He also does intermittent fasting, replacing breakfast with a mid-morning snack. 

Lowe, who is now 54, says he feels just as good as he did when he was newly sober in his late twenties. “I feel exactly like that guy,” he said. “And I see him.”

In 2015, Lowe took to Twitter to celebrate 25 years of sobriety. He wrote, “To those struggling with addiction, there is true, real hope. 25 years ago today, I found recovery; and a life of promise. #Grateful"

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.