It may sound like either a joke or a dream come true – drinking beer can be good for your exercise routine? But, it’s true; research is showing that drinking alcohol in moderation can be a great motivator to sticking with your resolution to exercise consistently.
Most people drink with friends who serve as the social stimulus and motivators to get active and stay active.
Researchers have yet to determine why exactly there’s a correlation or effect between the two and more studies will need to be completed; however, numerous studies have already deduced that people who drink in moderation exercise more than non-drinkers.
A 2009 study from the American Journal of Health Promotion by French et al. found that women who drink moderately engaged in 7.2 minutes more of exercise per week than alcohol abstainers (roughly an extra half-hour per month – it adds up!). In fact, drinking was associated with a 10.1 percentage increase in the probability of vigorous exercise. Vigorous exercise is often associated with greater fat-burning potential such as high-intensity interval training and also allows you to get more work done in less time.
It’s believed that drinking alcohol provides sort of a “positive peer pressure” approach to exercise. Most people drink with friends who serve as the social stimulus and motivators to get active and stay active. Perhaps an evening out with friends can serve as the conversation to starting gym dates or early-morning run dates. Another theory is the brain’s effect or response to both alcohol and exercise as dopamine and endorphins, feel-good chemicals, are released with both activities. People are more likely to stick with activities that make them feel good.
Of course, there’s also the high possibility that people who drink more will also exercise more to compensate for their “bad” or guilty behavior. Drinking, staying out late and eating unhealthy foods with alcohol may contribute to the “beer belly” effect and excess caloric intake. As a result, beer drinkers can be found in the gym more the next day to balance out their habits.
Alcohol’s potential benefits to exercise go beyond increasing commitment levels however. Drinking in moderation may be beneficial for your heart! The popular Mediterranean diet, often recommended by doctors due to its heart-healthy fats, whole grains and fresh produce, includes a daily glass of wine.
There is still more research to be done but the key message here is, as with most things, moderation. Above all, try to find a healthy balance between alcohol, exercise and your good health!