Exercise and Alcohol Consumption – Do They Mix?

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A study was recently published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine regarding the relationship and effects of regular exercise and alcohol consumption. [1]

The study was conducted across several countries including London, Canada, Norway, and Australia. It examined the health and wellness of 36,000 individuals (both men and women) over the age of 40 who both consumed alcohol regularly and participated in exercise.

Related: Does Beer Make You Fat?

The study found that undertaking 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week may help assist in reducing the risk of dying from alcohol-related cancer. Essentially the study concluded that regular exercise may all but eliminate the risk of cancer and other negative effects of alcohol.

However, this study like most research-backed studies, come with a certain degree of bias. Results should be viewed with a certain degree of skepticism.

Does Exercise Reduce the Risk of Alcohol-Related Heath Issues

BeerThe population is not representative of society as a whole

First off, the population states the study was conducted among individuals over the age of 40. This completely eliminates more than half of society (since the average age worldwide is in the high 30’s give or take a few years).

People over 40 are generally more aware of their health. Alcohol consumption is much more rampant in people under 30. Use will tend to decline to a certain degree with age and life experience.

Therefore, in order to reach a true representation the study should include people of all legal drinking age to truly understand the effects of exercise and alcohol.

People who exercise tend to be healthier

The vast majority of people considered heavy alcohol users generally will not also be most health conscious individuals around. Therefore, people that exercise regularly will also be more likely to make other life choices that are positive for their health including proper diet and sleeping patterns.

Therefore, this study cannot be viewed in a bubble.

In essence, there could be several other factors positively impacting the health of the study’s participants. Maybe they eat a plant-based diet and are sure to sleep eight hours per day.

These factors could play a crucial role in overall health. So it might not be the exercise alone that is limiting some of the negative effects of alcohol use.

The study doesn’t mention other health factors

The study simply states that the likelihood of some forms of alcohol-related cancer may be lessened with regular exercise. It but does not mention some of the other downsides associated with alcohol use.

How were the weight and body composition of the participants effected by alcohol use? What about the mental side effects including depression? Other factors should have been reviewed in the study to get a better sense of if overall health improved as a result of regular exercise.

The study may be misinterpreted

If a young college student were to review this study they could very well come to the conclusion that they are able to drink as much as possible as long as they had performed some exercise. The study doesn’t mention specifically how much the participants drank.

There is a big difference between drinking two drinks a night and 12 drinks per night. There has to be a certain point where alcohol has dilatory effects that cannot be improved by exercise no matter how much is performed.

The Verdict

Can exercise help improve the health of people that consume alcohol? Of course it can, but the same can be said of people that do not consume alcohol. The true conclusion that the study reaches is that regular exercise is beneficial for all people with all types of lifestyles across all population groups.

However, people should not interpret the study as simply an excuse to drink heavily if they exercise. All studies should be viewed with skeptic lenses as the researcher may unknowingly be trying to make their original hypothesis come to fruition.

Alcohol in moderation has previously been shown to have several positive health effects including improved cardiovascular function and lower blood pressure. So it should come as no surprise that adding in exercise will improve the health of all people regardless of the fact if they consume alcohol or not.

There is a certain point, however, where alcohol use will have negative side effects on the body regardless of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. As with anything moderation is always the key to maintaining a well-balanced life.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @ryanrodal for more nutritional advice and workout tips. Contact me at ryanrodal@gmail.com for any additional information.

References

1) “Does Physical Activity Moderate the Association Between Alcohol Drinking and All-cause, Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality? A Pooled Analysis of Eight British Population Cohorts — Perreault Et Al. — British Journal of Sports Medicine.” British Journal of Sports Medicine – BMJ Journals. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.

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Name: Ryan Rodal

Bio: My short term fitness goals include reaching a 300lb bench, 405 lb squat and a 500 lb deadlift. Longterm I want to become more involved in the fitness industry and help others achieve their goals. The bodybuilding lifestyle is not about how much you can lift or even how you look, its simply about being the best version of yourself.