The influence of a cycling program on women in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse

Erica Tibbetts, Temple University, USA

Theme: Social and cultural diversity

Program ID: LEC-11D

Presentation: October 4, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Elmwood


Women recovering from substance abuse have high rates of depression, anxiety, and obesity (Leddy, Schulkin, & Power, 2009; Lee, Vlahov, & Freudenberg , 2006). This study examined whether exercise influences the recovery process of women in terms of depressive symptoms, anxiety, hope for the future, and weight gain. Women at an inpatient recovery home (n = 34; age M (sd) = 30.84 (8.60)) filled out a pre-test, including the Patient Health Questionnaire, Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale, Herth Hope Index, cycling self-efficacy, and demographic information. The majority (73.5%; n = 25) had been incarcerated. Participants self-selected into a treatment group who rode bicycles or a control group who took part in no organized exercise. After riding 100 miles (treatment) or six weeks of residence (control), women filled out post-tests including a physical activity enjoyment scale and perceived belonging scale as well as the above measures. At pre-test, women were, on average, 32.56 lbs heavier than at incarceration. At post-test, both groups had gained weight; those who rode gained slightly less weight (6.40 lbs as opposed to 7.76 lbs.). Enjoyment of exercise and cycling efficacy were correlated with hope (r(enjoyment) =.87, p<.01 r(cycling) = .54, p< .01(pre); r(cycling) = .64, p <.01(post). Overall levels of depressive symptoms decreased from pre-test (M (sd) = .90 (.62)) to post-test (M (sd) = .50 (.48)); there was no difference based on group membership. The results show the need for an exercise program to help combat weight gain experienced by women in recovery. Gaining (on average) over 40 lbs from incarceration through the recovery process could create health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease (CDC, 1998). The connection between enjoyment of cycling and hope for the future shows the positive influence of exercise on mental health and offers exciting possibilities for the future.

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