If you drink alcohol regularly, chances are that you engage in exercise more often than your teetotaler counterparts. A study published in the September/October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion
found that drinking alcohol was associated with a 10 percent increase in the likelihood of engaging in vigorous exercise for both men and women. Researchers from the University of Miami and Cornell University studied 230,856 individuals between the ages of 21 and 65 who were part of the 2005 cross-section of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System--an annual, state-administered telephone survey devised to assess behavioral risk factors in the U.S. adult population.
Subjects were divided into four categories based on their frequency of alcohol consumption:
- Abstainers: No alcohol consumption within the 30 days leading up to the test date.
- Light Drinkers: Females who consumed 1 to 14 alcoholic drinks and males who drank 1 to 29 alcoholic drinks in the preceding 30 days.
- Moderate Drinkers: Females who drank 15 to 45 alcoholic drinks and males who consumed 30 to 75 alcoholic beverages in the 30 days prior to the interview date.
- Heavy Drinkers: Females who consumed more than 46 alcoholic beverages and males who drank more than 76 alcoholic drinks within the 30 days leading up to the test date.
The results of the study showed that:
- Women drinkers exercised approximately 7.2 minutes more per week than female abstainers and that male drinkers exercised an estimated 5.5 minutes more than their teetotaler counterparts.
- Ten extra drinks per month increased the likelihood of engaging in vigorous exercise by 2.0 percent.
- Light, moderate and heavy drinkers exercised 5.7, 10.1 and 19.9 minutes more per week, respectively, than abstainers; and, they were 9.0, 14.3 and 13.7 percent, respectively, more likely to engage in vigorous exercise than their abstaining peers.
The researchers suggest the following causes of the positive relationship between alcohol drinking and exercise:
- Risk-loving individuals follow a sensation-seeking lifestyle which could include both heavy drinking and participation in high-risk physical activities (e.g., mountaineering, deep sea diving, etc.,).
- Group sports participation often results in socializing post-game, which frequently includes gatherings where alcohol is served.
- Knowledge that alcohol is highly caloric may result in engaging in exercise to offset the extra calories consumed.
AM J Health Promot
- Although increased alcohol consumption is associated with a greater probability of engaging in health-promoting exercise, the risks of problematic drinking can outweigh the benefits of physical activity. Care still needs to be taken to drink in moderation and responsibly.
. 2009; 24(1): 2-10.
Labels: alcohol, exercise