Can methamphetamine-dependent individuals improve fitness and quality of life through aerobic exercise?

  • Jiakuan W
  • Chenglin Z
  • Jia H
  • et al.
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Introduction: Methamphetamine-dependent individuals (MDIs) have poor physical fitness and quality of life (QOL). Previous research has suggested that aerobic exercise has been found to be beneficial in healthy people. This study assessed the effects of different intensity of 12-week aerobic exercise on fitness and QOL of MDIs. Methods: A total of 51 male MDIs (age: 30.20 ± 5.45 years) admitted to a compulsory drug rehabilitation center participated in this study. They were randomized to supervised stationary cycling at moderate-intensity (n = 28, 65%-75% HRmax) or high-intensity group (n = 23, 75%-85% HRmax) for 35 minutes three days per week over 12 weeks. Strength (measured by trunk flexor and extensor endurance and grip strength), flexibility (measured by standing trunk flexion) and balance (measured by single leg stance with eyes closed) were tested at the beginning, middle and end of the intervention. In addition, body mass index (BMI) and the quality of life questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF) were measured before and after the intervention. All statistical analyses were performed using IBM SPSS software (v.25 for Windows). Statistical significance was set at P≤ 0.05. Results: There was no significant between-group difference at baseline. After 12-week exercise intervention, strength and balance were significantly improved in both groups. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between groups and grip strength (F(3,147) = 3.506, p = 0.017). Simple effect analysis showed that high-intensity group had an significant improvement in the first 4 weeks (F(1,49) = 6.724, p = 0.013). In terms of flexibility, the training-induced improvement was significantly superior in high-intensity group (F(3,66) = 12.107, p< 0.001). For the QOL, the scores for both physical health and psychological domains improved significantly across the 12-week intervention (F(1,43) = 4.436, p = 0.041; (F(1,43) = 4.533, p = 0.039), but high-intensity aerobic exercise is superior in increasing the scores of social relationship domain. BMI improved significantly in both groups (F(1,22) = 28.359, p< 0.001; F(1,27) = 9.111, p = 0.005). Discussions: Both high-and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can improve fitness and QOL in MDIs. High-intensity aerobic exercise turns out to be superior in improving grip strength, flexibility, and social relationship scores. Higher levels of fitness and QOL are conductive to social rehabilitation work and employment of MDIs after they return to society. Collectively, this study demonstrated the effectiveness and feasibility of aerobic exercise, an economic and environmentally-friendly method, in the treatment of methamphetamine dependence in the compulsory drug rehabilitation center.




Jiakuan, W., Chenglin, Z., Jia, H., Witchalls, J., & Waddington, G. (2019). Can methamphetamine-dependent individuals improve fitness and quality of life through aerobic exercise? Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22, S35.

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