The Guy’s Guide to Exercise & Alcohol

The drinking man’s dilemma; how detrimental is consuming alcohol to your health and exercise regime? And do those weekday after-work beverages affect your performance at work the next day? Well you’ll be happy to know that the results aren’t as depressing as you’re thinking.

But first, the depressing facts.

  • Alcohol contains no nutrients and can’t be stored as energy. So it’s stored as fat, thus creating the notorious beer belly when consumed in excessive amounts.
  • Alcohol can also cause a shortage of oxygen with its effects on the liver and decrease adenosine triphosphate synthesis (ATP), which is a direct energy source for muscles.
  • Oh, it gets worse. Alcohol has also been shown to decrease protein synthesis which stops muscle growth by inhibiting the repair of damaged muscles.
  • Additionally, as anyone who has ever experienced a hangover can tell you, drinking alcohol excessively causes dehydration as it’s a diuretic.

Now don’t be glum, this doesn’t mean that you should cut alcohol out of your life completely. The saying ‘everything in moderation’ really does ring true for booze.

The Awesome facts

When alcohol is consumed in moderation, two for men and one for women, it can actually have benefits for your heart health when combined with exercise.

In one major study, a group of 12,000 people was surveyed over a twenty-year period, and the results were rather astounding. The study showed that exercise and moderated drinking actually has beneficial effects on the heart that compounded when practiced together.

  • People who drink moderately and exercised had a 50% lower risk of heart disease than those who abstained from drink as well as exercise.
  • People who don’t drink and don’t exercise had the highest risk of heart disease. Abstainers and couch potatoes only noted a 30% decreased risk.
  • Moderate drinkers who exercise regularly will see an increase in good cholesterol or high density proteins (HDL) that help keep the circulatory system clean.
  • Alcohol relaxes you and decreases stress levels.

A lot of these benefits won’t play a big factor until you’re in your forties, but now that you know the statistics you can start practicing these good habits for a heathier future.

The Actionable Facts

Say you’re also concerned with how getting a little tipsy effects your performance at work. Well, you’re also in luck.

  • Studies have found that if you get a little drunk during the work week, as long as you get enough sleep, your alcohol consumption will have no effect on your work performance the following day.
  • Getting less than six hours of sleep makes you less capable of doing your job than if you had seven or eight hours.

Awesome, right? I mean, I don’t think this study includes the effects of a gnarly hangover. But say you’re having three or four beers. If you get enough shut eye, you’ll have no excuse to not have that big assignment done at work.

Overall, alcohol is harmful when it’s overconsumed, but if it’s done right, within moderation and good judgement, you can enjoy its benefits, stay healthy and still have a really good time.

Danielle Roberts is a Canadian freelance writer currently based out of Calgary. A self-professed dweeb with a dash of geek, Danielle attained a BA in English at the University of Calgary back in 2010. She has an obsession with running and cats and also loves to read, write and listen to angry music. You can follow her on twitter @PluviophileRead or check out her website.

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