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Christine Luff

Drinkers More Likely to Exercise

By September 3, 2009

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We've all heard the jokes about beer drinkers doing their 12-ounce curls, but it turns out that people who regularly drink alcohol are more likely to exercise, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Miami found that heavy drinkers, or women who consumed at least 46 drinks in the past month and men who consumed 76 or more drinks, exercised an average of 20 minutes more per week than nondrinkers. Moderate drinkers, which included women who had 15 to 45 drinks in a month, and men who had 30 to 75, exercised an average of 10 more minutes each week.

And both moderate and heavy drinkers were more likely to exercise vigorously than light drinkers or those who don't drink, reported the researchers in the September/October issue of American Journal of Health Promotion

Why are drinkers more active? For many, they may be trying to burn off those extra calories from alcoholic drinks. Or, some may use a drink as a reward or indulgence after a tough workout. The researchers theorize that some heavier drinkers may be more likely to participate in adventurous outdoor activities like rock climbing, or be members of sports teams that head to a bar after a game or workout. This is definitely the case for some running teams. The Hash House Harriers, an international running club, call themselves "a drinking club with a running problem" and typically end their runs with drinks at a nearby pub or restaurant.

Although the researchers found a strong statistical relationship between alcohol and exercise, runners shouldn't start binge-drinking to improve their running. The negative consequences of heavy drinking may outweigh the benefits of more exercise. But if you're a responsible drinker using exercise to compensate for those extra calories, that's not such a bad thing.

Do your drinking habits influence your running habits, or vice versa?  Do you drink socially with other runners? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


September 4, 2009 at 7:26 pm
(1) OneRunner says:

Work hard, play hard! This is an interesting study… I for one can’t imagine finishing a long, hard run with anything other than a tall glass of water! Of course, later that day or night, bring on the libations!

September 4, 2009 at 8:25 pm
(2) rich says:

Nothing is better than sitting on the back porch on a summer evening with a cold beer after a 7 or 8 mile run.

September 5, 2009 at 11:29 am
(3) Tanya says:

This surprised me. I just didn’t think of drinkers as exercising more than non drinkers. As for me, I’m a light drinker, I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with dinner, and my running definitely influences my drinking-I won’t drink any alcohol the day before a long run. But after the long run-that’s when I’ll indulge in a beer in the evening, since the next day is a rest day!

September 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm
(4) irontri says:

i ran the 2003 chicago marathon and found the free beer at the end. i stayed drunk for 10mos. something happened that day but the 10mos were the worst of my life now i’m 5years sober and training for an ironman.

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