Yes, research has found that athletes and those who exercise regularly frequently consume alcohol and suffer alcohol-related problems.
The amount of exercise that one performs has been directly linked with the amount of alcohol consumed. Athletes and those who exercise heavily also display the highest percentage of individuals with alcohol addiction problems.
A national survey investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and physical activity using a survey of 230,856 adults from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. They used several measures to analyze drinking and exercise, including socioeconomic factors, health, health behavior, and demographics.
These were the results:
- Drinkers exercise 7.2 more minutes per week than abstainers
- Ten extra drinks per month are associated with 2.2 extra minutes of physical activity
- Compared to those who abstain from alcohol, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers exercise 5.7, 10.1, and 19.9 more minutes per week
- The probability of vigorous exercise increases 9.0, 14.3, and 13.7 percent in regards to light, moderate, and heavy drinking
Another study performed by researchers at Pennsylvania State University used a group of 150 men and women between the ages of 18 to 75 to look at what was going on between alcohol consumption and exercise. The subjects recorded their alcohol consumption and amount of physical activity over the course of 21 days. Each participant completed three of these 21-day studies throughout different time periods of the year. What the researchers found was an undoubted association between the amount someone drank and their amount of physical activity. On days that the participants ingested more alcohol, they had higher levels of physical activity, and vice-versa.
Does this mean that if you want to get fit you should start consuming alcohol? Absolutely not.
What this means is that alcohol and exercise send the same message to the brain’s reward system, chemically altering the brain to release dopamine. We get the same type of feeling from working out that we get from consuming a few drinks. Exercise in itself is a great “pick-me-up” without the negative effects that can be caused by consuming alcohol. For those who struggle with addiction, implementing an exercise routine can help stave off cravings and bring the body back into a healthy balance.
French, MT, Popovici I, Maclean JC. “Do alcohol consumers exercise more?” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
Peterson, Dan. “Exercisers Drink More Alcohol.”