Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Sport Sciences

First Advisor

Courtney Jensen

First Committee Member

Mark Van Ness

Second Committee Member

Margaret Ciccolella


Exercise training for clients at out-patient drug rehabilitation centers likely helps with coping skills. However, a better examination of the mechanisms producing changes may help identify effective interventions. PURPOSE: To test the effect of a vigorous exercise prescription on drug abstinence in voluntary rehabilitation patients. METHODS: 25 surveyed participants in a male drug treatment program underwent a 12-week minimum training program. The program included moderate-rigorous exercise and psychotherapy. Three days per week all subjects participated in EP for 90 minutes. Subjects also participated in ABIT 3 days per week where each session lasted 2 hours. Subjects also participated in ESM which ran for 90 minutes 5 days per week. Within each week, program participants also completed between 2-3 hours of psychotherapy (individual and/or group) per day, varying depending on level of care and phase of the treatment process. Exercise performance and adherence, sobriety and relapse rates, and emotional coping skills were collected. RESULTS: Subjects experienced frequent relapse (5±8 occurrences) prior to admission; however, 84% were currently sober on completion of the program, 8% relapsed during treatment, and 36% relapsed after treatment. The longest duration of sobriety a subject achieved was 273±111 days. Post-treatment survey results indicate 84% of subjects still exercised regularly, 68% continued to practice yoga or meditation, and 60% followed a diet that required disciplined awareness. Bench press max improved significantly throughout the program (39%; p<.001), as did squat (55% improvement; p<0.001) and deadlift (69.8%; p<0.001). On completion of the survey 91% of patients who exercised regularly were sober; 50% of patients who did not engage in regular exercise were sober on completion of the program (P=0.043). Owing to a small sample of patients who relapsed during treatment (N=2), the difference in exercisers who relapsed during treatment (5%) and non-exercisers who relapsed (25%) was not significant (P=0.171). Twenty-nine percent of exercisers relapsed after treatment; 75% of non-exercisers relapsed after treatment (P=0.076). The odds of managing adverse emotional states when they arose increased 20-fold among subjects who reported regular participation in exercise (Nagelkerke R2=0.333; P=0.036). Similarly, each additional day per week that a patient practiced yoga predicted a 20-day increase in duration of sobriety (R2=0.227; P=0.016). CONCLUSION: Exercise training exerts a statistically significant positive effect for sobriety and coping skills within a population that previously struggled with perpetual relapse.





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