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Fitness levels and physical activity among class A drug users entering prison
  1. Jan Fischer1,
  2. Christine Butt2,
  3. Helen Dawes3,
  4. Charlie Foster4,
  5. Joanne Neale3,
  6. Emma Plugge4,
  7. Carly Wheeler3,
  8. Nat Wright2
  1. 1Department of Social Work and Public Health, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Healthcare Department, HM Prison Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3Department of Health and Sport Science, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
  4. 4Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jan Fischer, Oxford Brookes University, Jack Straw's Lane, Marston, Oxford, OX3 0FL, UK, j.fischer{at}


Background Physical activity could benefit drug users' physiological and mental health. Previous research has suggested that physical activity levels change when drug users enter prison.

Methods Twenty-five class A drug users who were new to prison answered physical activity and drug use cross-sectional questionnaires, took a submaximal fitness test and wore a pedometer for 1 week.

Results Participants' mean aerobic capacity was estimated as 49 mls O2/kg/min (±12 SD). Their mean self-reported walking distance outside of prison was 4.67 miles on an average day (±4.14 SD). Pedometer data suggest they walked a mean of 1.8 miles/day in prison.

Conclusion Many class A drug users entering prison had high levels of fitness and physical activity before admission, often gained from walking. Walking activity reduced when they entered prison, posing a challenge to maintaining healthy activity levels.

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  • Funding Oxford Brookes University Research Fund (and Helen Dawes is funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee for Wales (reference 10/MRE09/01).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.