Regular exercise has a surprising effect on alcohol consumption.
Runners love their post-run beer. So much so that sometimes they’ll drink it mid-run, trying to accomplish the notorious beer mile. Mixing alcohol with exercising tends to get a bad rap. Often, runners will reduce or abstain from drinking while training for a goal race. But, is having a beer (or two) after a long run really so bad?
A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says maybe not. Researchers from the University of Sydney looked at data from the health surveys in the United Kingdom to examine the effects that alcohol and physical activity had on risk of death from any cause, cancer-related death and cardiovascular disease-related death.
Participants were divided into groups based on their weekly alcohol consumption: Non-drinkers, ex drinkers, occasional drinkers (didn’t drink in the past week), within weekly drinking guidelines (<8 drinks for women, <12 drinks for men), hazardous drinking (>8 drinks for women, >12 drinks for men), and harmful drinking (>20 drinks for women, >28 drinks for men).
Researchers found that there was a direct association between ex-drinkers and harmful-level drinkers when it came to risk of death, compared to non-drinkers. They also found the risk of death from cancer increased as weekly alcohol consumption increased. On the flip side, they found that occasional drinking was protective against death from any cause and cardiovascular disease.
Okay, but what about athletes? In inactive study subjects, there was a direct link between alcohol consumption and death from any cause. But all drinkers (excluding those drinking at harmful levels) who met or exceeded the weekly physical activity recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity reduced their risk of death from any cause and death from cancer. Researchers think this could mean that physical activity can temper negative effects from alcohol.
Stick to the Serving Size
One drink is the equivalent of a 285 ml of beer, 100ml of wine, or 30ml of distilled spirits. It’s recommended that women have up to one drink a day, and men up to two.
This report found that occasional drinkers had the lowest risk of death from any cause and cardiovascular disease. Opt for a drink during special events, and make herbal tea or sparkling water your go-to beverage.
Your regular physical activity can help offset occasional excess drinking. Plan your long run before a party that will have the liquor flowing (and make sure to hydrate!).
Hydrate and Refuel
Before you toss back a post-run brew, it’s important to get some protein in your system (within 30 minutes of completing your workout) and hydrate with water. Try a banana with peanut butter and a glass of water before your suds.
– Additional reporting by Debbie Fetter