We know exercise can make you thirsty, but a new study is suggesting physical activity is making people reach for something quite a bit stronger than water.
In the study, published in Health Psychology, researchers asked participants to track their alcohol consumption and when they exercised over three stretches of 21 days. Strangely, the records showed that people tended to drink more on the days they exercised more.
Participants in the study reported more physical activity from Thursday to Sunday, meaning they exercised more on the weekends. They also drank more too, but it’s already known that people drink more on weekends than they do during the week. It would have been case closed for the study had the researchers not put a control in place to account for increased drinking on the weekends.
“We adjusted for the day of week, so any associations between physical activity and alcohol consumption could not be attributed to the fact that it was, for example, a Saturday,” said lead study author David E. Conroy in a statement.
“Monday through Wednesday people batten down the hatches and they cut back on alcohol consumption,” he said. “But once that ‘social weekend’ kicks off on Thursdays, physical activity increases and so does alcohol consumption.”
It has been suggested that people who are more physically active tend to drink more, but that isn’t what this study discovered.
“We zoomed in the microscope and got a very up-close and personal look at these behaviors on a day-to-day basis and see it’s not people who exercise more drink more — it’s that on days when people are more active they tend to drink more than on days they are less active.” Conroy adds that this finding was true across the study, in all ages and levels of physical activity.
So what makes people drink more after they’ve been physically active? The study authors aren’t sure. Some suggested people were rewarding themselves with alcohol after a workout. While it may be fun to go out with the team after winning (or losing) the big game, don’t make a habit of it. Rewarding yourself with food or calorie-laden beverage isn’t a good habit to get in to. It’s also possible that physical activity puts you in the kind of mood that makes you more likely to be in a social situation where you consume alcohol.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to note that while getting plenty of physical activity is a good thing, drinking more than normal every time you exercise is not.