More Alcohol = More Exercise?

Did you know drinkers exercise more than non-drinkers?

A study conducted in the US has discovered that drinkers exercise more than non-drinkers. A team of researchers, lead by Dr Michael T French, a professor of health economics at the University of Miami, have found that alcohol is a motivator for exercise.

The findings from a telephone survey of 230 000 Americans found that women who drink exercise on average 7.2 minutes more per week than those who don’t. Light drinkers (women who have about 15 drinks a month) increased their exercise time by 5.7 minutes per week. Moderate drinkers (women who have between 15-46 drinks a month) increased their exercise time by 10 minutes a week. And heavy drinkers (women who have 46 drinks or more a month), increase their exercise time by 20 minutes a week.

French says with this new information, women shouldn’t be ignorant to the harms of binge drinking. Health problems with heavy drinking may still outweigh the benefits of more exercise and people should not use alcohol to boost their workouts.

Researchers reason that drinkers may be more active because they don’t want to put on weight, and feel exercising counteracts the calories from alcohol. The researchers also say drinkers may be more adventurous and social in nature, so they take part in team sports or outdoor activities and after sweating it out with their teammates, pop down to their local bar for a few drinks.

Warren McCann, a personal trainer from Johannesburg, says there are two sides to the results and reasoning from the research.

‘On a social training basis, the excuse to drink more can be rationalised by training harder the next session,’ says McCann. ‘This means five to 10 extra minutes per session, gives them the sense of more calories burnt and maintenance of their "healthier" lifestyle.’

But McCann says the research might be irrelevant for those who are more goal-orientated in their training. If they want to complete the Comrades Marathon or Cape Argus Cycle Tour for example, they will be more focused on their eating habits. They may be training hard but won’t necessarily drink because it could jeopardise their efforts.

Janine Coetsee, a Cape Town-based personal trainer with nine years’ experience, says most of her clients have a plan to live a healthier lifestyle. And although they do drink, they control it better because they have a disciplined goal to achieve and have committed themselves to a healthier lifestyle. In her opinion some people who drink and then exercise hard are still disciplined enough to work it off, and may also feel that they can do it with ease, thus the guilt factor decreases in regards to having an unhealthy life style.

Do you feel the need to exercise extra hard after a weekend of heavy drinking and partying? Share your comments with us below…