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Heroin users are fitter than you think

image - Legs 250x165 By Jordanfischer

A wealth of papers and presentations continue to bust the myths around alcohol, drug use and mental health

Myth: Heroin users miss out on exercise

Professor Joanne Neale from Oxford Brookes University in the UK presented interim results at the NDARC seminar series from three studies looking at physical activity among heroin users. One study of 100 people on OST in the community found that a third walked an average of five miles (8 kilometres) or more a day - nearly 10,000 steps a day. Another study that examined offenders in the community and in prison found that before entering prison, study participants were walking just shy of five miles a day on average. Tellingly, another study found a significant amount of the exercise heroin users had undertaken was incidental and part of the heroin lifestyle. In the words of one user: “Some days you can walk miles and miles... trying to score and get money and that... In that way, I suppose I’ve always kept quite fit...” Nevertheless three months after commencing treatment, more than half of those same heroin users were formally exercising and taking part in a wide range of sports including badminton, bowling, circuits, cycling, dancing, sit ups, football, golf, the gym, squash, swimming and yoga.

Great work from Oxford Brookes and we look forward to seeing the studies develop. There was a lot of interest from the audience at NDARC on whether future studies could be designed to measure the impact of exercise on treatment outcomes.

Click through to see a PDF of Professor Joanne Neale's presentation to NDARC.

The three studies referenced are:

Image credit: jordanfischer/flickr.