Alcohol Vs. Exercise: Why A Little Exercise May Save Your Life

One of the most iconic heroes ever has got to be James Bond. The agent provocateur of the MI6 is the most celebrated spy of fiction-land, with his quick draw small automatic pistols, beautiful damsels in distress, super gadgetry and “shaken, but not stirred” alcoholism. A cultural icon, it is not surprising to note that numerous folks take after Bond’s martini affectation, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, such people should add to the love for alcohol, Bond’s inclination to strenuous physical activity. The recent study shows that the relationship between exercise and alcohol may be a little closer than previously assumed.

It has long been known that a correlation exists between exercise and the risk of death, as well as a relationship between alcohol and the risk of death, with exercise limiting risk of death significantly and heavy drinking increasing the rates from 31% to as much as 54%. This shows that while both properties affect life span, they work in opposing directions. The recent study examined by how much these two properties inter-related and the new information points to a direct counter relationship between exercise and heavy alcohol intake itself.

Using data derived from the Health Survey for England as well as the Scottish Health Survey, the study examined 36,370 adults (ages 40 and above) who fell into interconnected categories of active individuals (who exercise), those who are moderately active and those who are not very active, as well as casual drinkers, heavy drinkers and non-drinkers. The results based on extrapolations after an average follow-up period of 10 years per person showed 5,735 deaths that linked individuals who consume alcohol with those who performed the least exercise.

The reason for the study according to the scientists was based off the cultural acceptance of alcohol in most societies. According to the researchers, alcohol is socially revered and as long as that reverence continues, people will continue to abuse it. As evidenced by this study, the alternative is clear then: exercise more often.

Recommended exercises from the US Department of Health and Human Services include brisk walking, swimming and lawn mowing, expected to total 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly. Individuals who perform these recommended exercises, with strength training for all their muscle groups twice a week at least, eliminate completely whatever accumulated risks from alcohol intake.

The kicker to this study however was that, no matter the level of exercise by the individual, consuming alcohol at dangerous quantities (over 20 drinks per week for women or 28 drinks for men) was still severely limiting on the quality of life. While the researchers are not sure if this new information will serve to push for reduced intake of alcohol among the population, they are optimistic that the information will be sufficient to drive an increased interest in physical activity and exercise especially among sedentary workers prone to sit more often.

It is necessary to state that this study was observational and based largely on input from the subjects – stating their level of alcohol intake, exercise regimen etc., and as such results obtained from the study should only be taken as suggestive and not definite.