Exercise & Alcohol
I could be unique where I’m more likely to invite you to party with me at a gym than a bar. However, my invitations are usually shunned initially until I offer a glass of wine or champagne to follow an hour of cardio, dancing or yoga. I’m happy to learn those few sips of alcohol afterwards probably do not negate the positive effects of exercising.
Whether you drink or not there’s no denying that sports and social alcohol drinking is pervasive in our society. Many golfers, softball, hockey or other fitness enthusiast, over 21 years of age, will celebrate their glory or dowse their disappointments at a nearby pub after the game. The camaraderie built on the field or with fellow exercisers in the gym can motivate people to gather together for a cocktail afterwards and that may in turn encourage them to stick with a fitness regimen as a way to hang out with friends.
From another point of view linking exercise and alcohol, a 2001 study found moderate drinkers, meaning averaging one or two drinks a day, were twice as likely to exercise than teetotalers. It’s common for drinking to inspire physical activity in order to burn the extra calories associated with alcohol. This affiliation is causing researchers to look at the association of drinking and exercise.
One question they are studying is why alcohol and athletics go together.
A review in Frontiers in Psychiatry finds both alcohol and exercise increase stimulation in two different areas of the brain related to reward processing. After studying these two separate reward processing areas in rodents, researcher J. Leigh Leasure suggests people might be looking to extend or intensify the good euphoric feeling they get after working out by drinking a beer.
But is this a good thing?
Another report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says as long as the drinking is moderate, exercise seems to offset mortality rates. Researchers at University of Sydney in Australia tracked 36,000 men and women for about ten years. Those who drank alcohol and did not exercise were linked to higher rates of death from different causes including cancer. But those who exercised at least moderately, 150 minutes a week, and drank alcohol moderately had lower death rates. People who drank at high levels had higher rates of death no matter how much they exercised.
Researcher Emmanuel Stamatakis warns against using this data to drink with abandonment thinking you can offset it with time at the gym. Alcohol is linked to many health issues such as liver disease, domestic violence and depression.
No more than moderate consumption is advised and that is one drink a day for women and two for men.
If you don’t drink alcohol there is no reason to start. What this research does tell us is that earning your beer with exercise is a good idea. If you do enjoy an occasional drink, you better get moving to help keep it in check.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm
Exercise & Effects of Alcohol: http://time.com/4483178/exercise-alcohol-health-benefits/