In an article on The New York Times’ “Well” blog, Gretchen Reynolds begins her piece, “Does Exercising Make You Drink More,” with these questions: “Can regular exercise avert or undo some of the harm associated with binge drinking? Perhaps even better, could exercising beforehand pre-emptively reduce your urge to overindulge in alcohol later?”
For some, it seems the sweaty and invigorating high that goes with a great workout may be enough, staving off the desire for drinking alcohol. But for others, a cold beer or glass of wine seems the ideal reward after having run all those miles, skied for 6 hours, or spun at the gym for 50 minutes.
The article goes on to discuss the latest studies being conducted in an effort to understand the cloudy relationship between drinking and exercise. And in particular, a recent, large-scale study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, the answer to the article’s title–“Do Alcohol Consumers Exercise More”–was an emphatic yes. The more people drink, the more they exercise. But why?
Reynolds writes: “The authors [of the study] don’t have a definitive answer. The survey results do not ‘follow expected patterns’ they admit, in which people who indulge in one unhealthy habit tend to indulge in others and vice versa. Smokers, for instance, statistically are less likely than average to exercise regularly and eat well. But this is not the case when it comes to drinking and exercise. Maybe, the authors speculate, some of the drinkers are drawn to a ‘sensation-taking lifestyle’ that includes adventurous, extreme styles of exercise. Alternatively, imbibers could be “socializing and drinking after participating in organized group sports.” Or they might be trying “to compensate for the extra calories gained through drinking or to counterbalance the negative health effects of drinking.’”
Because I typically exercise in the morning, a post-workout cappuccino is more often my reward of choice. But after my husband plays 1 1/2 hours of tennis with some buddies in a weekly evening game, his ritual always entails plenty of beer and wings at a local pub.
What about you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how exercise and drinking relate in your life…