This post feels pretty autobiographical as this is exactly what I used to do. Running on a Sunday morning with a cracking hangover was my penance for the night before excesses (and the rest of the week if I’m honest). And now research has been done about that very thing and was covered in The Independent last month!
Regular exercise could mitigate some of the harmful effects of drinking alcohol, new research has suggested.
However, scientists also stressed that consuming alcohol remains a potentially risky activity and suggested the study indicated the great health benefits of exercise.
The research, for which scientists from University College London and the University of Sydney analysed the behaviour of over-forties, is described as the first of its kind.
The habits of the subjects were compared with national health surveys from England and Scotland dating back to 1994.
Results showed those who performed regular physical activity and drank between recommended and harmful levels had a reduced risk of death from all causes associated with alcohol.
In some cases, the exercise even appeared to cancel out the risk completely. Those who only drank occasionally were also at lower risk.
With the minimum recommended amount of exercise just 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, the exercises could be activities as light as gardening, brisk walking and golf.
However, the study did not take into account drinking habits or other dietary factors which can also influence health.
The study said: “Our results provide an additional argument for the role of (physical activity) as a means to promote the health of the population even in the presence of other less healthy behaviours.
“The public health relevance of our results is further emphasised by the recently updated alcohol consumption guidelines review by the UK chief medical officer that found that cancer mortality risk starts from a relatively low level of alcohol consumption.”
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, said a quarter of respondents met the higher weekly target for exercise, while just over 60 per cent did not meet the minimum recommended amount.
Just under 15 per cent did not drink at all, while 13 per cent drank more than the daily recommended maximum – when it was classified as more than 35 units per week for women and 49 units for men.
Head of health information at the World Cancer Research Fund, Sarah Toule, said: “We would not recommend that anyone sees these findings as a ‘get out of jail free card’, as alcohol does increase the risk of many different health conditions, including cancer.
“Doing more physical activity can have great health benefits and our own evidence shows that, if everyone in the UK was regularly active, about 12,000 cancer cases could be prevented every year. However, by not drinking alcohol, 24,000 cancer cases could be avoided.”
Also picked up by Reuters:
Getting regular moderate or vigorous exercise may offset some of the potentially lethal health effects of regular alcohol consumption, a new study suggests.
So exercise may help but it won’t resolve the health issues created. However much we’d like to ‘feel good’ alcohol and post imbibing exercise isn’t the answer (and yes the link to the tune is tenuous!) 😉
PS I went to see ‘The Girl on The Train’ at the cinema last week having read the book written by Paula Hawkins when it came out last year. OMG it was absolutely brilliant!! Sometimes having read a book the film adaptation can be so disappointing but this one was superb (apart from the fact that the film setting was moved to the US).
Without wishing to provide any spoilers I was really heartened to see that it didn’t try to play down or minimise how important Rachel’s alcoholism and black outs were to the story. As The Guardian review says: “Most importantly, in the shape of the mercurial Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train has a believably derailed heroine whose hollow eyes, crusty lips and stumbling gait convey Leaving Las Vegas levels of addiction while still retaining an air of mystery and intrigue.” and as one of the comments on the review said: Her drunken lurching in and out of reality as she desperately tried to work out what she had/hadn’t seen or done were heart breakingly realistic. As someone who has an alcoholic in the family it really hit home..