Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment (2020-07-01)

Managing Substance Use Disorder through a Walking/Running Training Program

  • Chia-Liang Dai,
  • Ching-Chen Chen,
  • George B Richardson,
  • Howard R. D. Gordon

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14


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While emerging studies have demonstrated the benefit of exercise in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) recovery outcomes, lack of motivation to engage in exercise has been indicated as one of many perceived barriers that contribute to low recruitment and adherence rates in SUD treatment. The current study aimed to explore participants’ perceptions of attending a supervised exercise program (boot camp workouts, walking/running practice, and a race event) while in treatment for SUD. A total of 109 participants were recruited to a 14-week exercise training program and 61 chose to participate in, and completed, a race at the close of the program. Interviews were conducted during weeks 6 through 14 and data were examined using Thematic Analysis. Three main themes were identified: (1) pushing forward recovery through running, (2) gaining a sense of achievement by crossing the finish line, and (3) building a sense of belonging in the program. Implications for SUD recovery programs are discussed.