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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Yields Increased Exercise

beerI once ran a 10K on St. Patrick’s day. At the finish line, rather than bagels and bananas and bottled water, we were greeted with a beer tent and each given three tickets for big plastic cups of Guinness. I’ve heard of carb loading before and after a race, but never thought about beer as being part of that concept. Maybe I should change my mind?

A recently released study proves that moderate female drinkers, those who imbibe more than 45 drinks a month (which seems like a lot of drinking, although it really only averages out to just shy of 1.5 glasses of wine a night) exercised 14 more minutes per week on average than those light drinkers who drank one to 14 drinks in the month. These women also reported exercising on average 20 minutes more than those who abstained from alcohol altogether. Also, drinkers of both sexes were 10 percent more likely than their sober peers to exercise vigorously in any given week.

Even more interesting, those who don’t drink alcohol and don’t exercise have a 30-49% increased risk of heart disease than those who either drink, exercise or both. I wonder what the correlation might be? After all, I’d assume that people with heavy exercise habits would also have a clean record of healthy living. It seems counter intuitive to spend hours at the gym and then kill the effort with alcohol intake. It could be that those who drink feel a need to burn off the extra calories, or maybe a person might chose to exercise just so they can drink a bit more.

It could be that those with an aggressive exercise habit are thrill seekers and the alcohol helps to fill that need. It could be the “runner’s high” that many report feeling with exercise, and the feelings you get when you drink are similar. Or it could just be coincidence – but it surely does make for an interesting topic, doesn’t it?

October 2nd, 2009

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