If you drink alcohol, you may be interested to know that physical exercise can cancel out the risks of drinking. Alcohol has some health benefits as an anti-inflammatory agent when consumed in moderation. However, many people overindulge, leading to increased risks of cancer and other conditions. Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, co-author of a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, stated, ”Alcohol will continue to be abused despite the damage it causes to the health of individuals and society in general."
The researchers acknowledged that drinking alcohol is a reality for many people and they set out to find agents that mitigate the negative effects of alcohol. They found that the recommended dose of exercise canceled out higher cancer risks due to drinking. Additionally, for all those couch potatoes out there, physical activity of any type or frequency lowered risks from alcohol consumption.
The scientists examined the health records of 36,370 people from England and Scotland. They placed the people, all over the age of 40 years, into three categories – not very active, moderately active, and very active. When they examined alcohol usage and crunched the numbers over 10 years, they found that hazardous drinkers died more often from many types of causes compared to people who never drank. Hazardous female drinkers consume 8 to 20 drinks weekly and hazardous male drinkers consume 21 to 49 drinks a week.
When the researchers studied exercise habits, they found that people with a hazardous drinking style who exercised at or above the recommended dosage, had death rates comparable to people who didn’t drink at all. Stamatakis said that the recommended dose "appeared to wipe off completely" the risks of cancer and all mortality risks due to drinking. Doing more than the recommended dose of exercise offered even more benefits and reduced risks.benefits and reduced risks.
Investigators caution that the beneficial effects of exercise were true for people who drank moderately or even at the hazardous level, but not for people with harmful drinking. Harmful drinking is defined at more than 20 drinks a week for women and more than 28 drinks for men per week. Harmful drinking is still associated with higher death risk even if you exercise.
The results also confirmed previous studies, which showed some benefits from occasional drinking, sometimes but not every week. People who drank occasionally had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, if they were also somewhat physically active. Stamatakis attributed the reduced cardiovascular risk to the “moderating effect of physical activity.”
You should know that the study applied a statistical analysis to peoples’ reports of their exercise and drinking habits and therefore is a suggestive study, and more studies are needed. However, Stamatakis believes that his group’s study provides plenty of evidence for people and yet another reason to exercise regularly.
People are going to drink and scientists have identified a powerful antidote to the harmful effects of alcohol. The recommended dosage of exercise for adults in the U.S. is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and twice weekly strength training. Moderate aerobic activity includes mowing the lawn, swimming, and walking.