Anyone who has managed to pull off a workout the morning after a night of drinking may have stumbled into the discovery that exercise can help sweat out the booze and make you feel semi-human again. Turns out that exercise post-drinking can do much more than that, like save your life.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that moderate exercise can "cancel out" the higher risk of death from cancer that's been associated with drinking. In fact, exercise can even lower the chances of death from any health issues related to alcohol.
The study examined the drinking habits of 370 people over the age of 40, and found that while drinking extreme levels of alcohol did increase the risk of death from numerous causes, people who drink booze regularly are specifically more likely to suffer and die from cancer. But the subjects in the study who engaged in 150 minutes of exercise a week were able to cancel out the additional health risk from alcohol, and break even.
All of that sounds like excellent news, but is it that simple? “This is an observation study that suggests that there may be an association between moderate intensity exercise and lowering the risk of alcohol-related cancers, most commonly, liver cancer,” Dr. Dara Huang, MD, internist/ nephrologist and culinary medicine expert, tells The Feast. “Certainly, further studies would have to be done to see if this association shows causality, but I agree that increasing one's physical activity is an important all-around noninvasive and nonpharmaceutical treatment approach to address the most common chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, obesity and mental disorders.”
So yes, even for the workout-averse, it's hard to deny that exercise is a must in the weekly regimen, especially if that regimen involves happy hour. “The negative effects [of alcohol] can be offset through exercise because exercise burns calories, balances blood sugar levels and helps to increase oxygen levels in the bloodstream,” Lisa Avellino, fitness director of a medically supervised fitness and wellness plan at New York Health and Wellness, tells The Feast.
If ramping up the old exercise plan sounds less than appealing, consider this: You don't have to run out and join a gym, or sign up for a pre-dawn weekend fitness bootcamp. “The main point is that if you splurge on a beer, wine or sangria, make sure you run, jump, stretch, or dance to balance, detox and offset the negative effects,” says Avellino.
You won't find us training for the marathon right after a few drinks, but busting some moves on the dance floor? That's a detox plan we can get behind.
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