Sedentary College Student Drinkers Can Start Exercising and Reduce Drinking After Intervention


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Abstract

Heavy drinking by college students is exceedingly harmful to the individuals and to the overall college environment. Current interventions to reduce drinking and negative consequences are infrequently utilized. This randomized clinical trial examined an alternative approach that sought to increase exercise behavior, a substance free activity, in sedentary heavy drinking college students. Participants (N = 70) were randomized to an 8-week exercise intervention: (a) motivational interviewing plus weekly exercise contracting (MI + EC) or (b) motivational interviewing and weekly contingency management for exercise (MI + CM). Follow-up evaluations occurred at posttreatment (2 months) and 6 months post baseline. Participants in both interventions significantly increased exercise frequency initially, and the MI + CM participants exercised significantly more than the MI + EC intervention participants during the intervention period (d = 1.70). Exercise behavior decreased during the follow-up period in both groups. Significant reductions in drinking behaviors and consequences were noted over time, but were not related to changes in exercise or the interventions (ds ≤ 0.01). This study underscores the complex nature of promoting 1 specific health behavior change with the goal of changing another.

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