Alcohol Use Associated With More Physical Activity

Men, women who drank more heavily exercised more per week compared to abstainers
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- People who drink alcohol -- even heavily -- may be more likely to engage in physical activity, according to research published in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Michael T. French, Ph.D., of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., and colleagues analyzed data from more than 230,000 adults between the ages of 21 and 65 years in the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Participants reported on their exercise habits and their alcohol use during the previous month.

The researchers found that, in women, having 10 extra drinks per month was associated with an additional 2.2 minutes of physical activity per week. Light, moderate, and heavy alcohol users exercised 5.7, 10.1, and 19.9 more minutes weekly, respectively, compared to those who abstained. These levels of drinking were also associated with 9.0, 14.3, and 13.7 percentage point increases in the probability of getting vigorous exercise, respectively. Results in men were similar.

"For some individuals, heavy drinking is part of a sensation-seeking lifestyle. Heavy drinkers scored high on sensation-seeking measures such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory or Zuckerman Sensation-Seeking Scale. Also, certain physical activities such as skiing, mountaineering, kayaking, or deep-sea diving are considered high-risk activities. It is possible to observe the co-occurrence of heavy drinking and high levels of physical exercise in risk-loving individuals who are predisposed to choose such sensation-seeking behaviors as part of a risk-taking lifestyle," the authors write.

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