Though exercise and alcohol aren’t really always the best mix, a new study has found that doing the recommended amount of daily exercise may cancel out the higher risk of cancer death brought on by drinking. In fact, physical activity lessened the risk of death from any alcohol-related cause. So drink up, but don’t cancel that gym membership!
The study, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, gathered data from health surveys taken in England and Scotland. The research team grouped respondents into three categories — those who are more sedentary, those who exercise moderately, and those who can’t get enough of a good workout. Then the team studied alcohol use and its effects amongst each group.
Calculating 5,735 total deaths over an average follow-up period of nearly 10 years per person, and crunching the numbers, the researchers discovered that compared with lifelong abstinence from alcohol, drinking at hazardous levels was linked to a heightened risk of death from all causes. Hazardous drinking is 8 to 20 US standard drinks for women and 21 to 49 for men, as defined by the researchers.
The researchers found that the risk of cancer death increased along with alcohol consumption — even when a person drank less than the recommended maximum! When the team factored in exercise in calculating the risk, however, things looked a little different. Exercising the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity “appeared to wipe off completely” the increased risk of cancer death caused by alcohol, said Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, senior author of the study, to CNN.
The study also found that occasional drinking, that is, not imbibing weekly, was associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease among those who were physically active.
But not so fast, you lushes. The results also showed the death risk among those who drink harmful levels– “Over 20 US standard drinks per week for women and over 28 US standard drinks for men” said Stamatakis—was not ameliorated by exercise.
Stamatakis believes his team’s work gives us another reason to stop avoiding the gym. “How many more reasons do we need for physical activity to be taken seriously?” None, obviously, but this one’s pretty compelling!
Gin is the secret to a long, happy life, but adding some moderate exercise couldn’t hurt!