Do Drinkers Exercise More Than Their Sober Peers?

Still, the researchers offered some possible explanations for the observed trend:

Calorie Compensation

For the calorie-conscious, drinking more can directly lead to exercise. Given that the average alcoholic beverage is over 100 calories a pop, those who are watching their waistlines may use exercise as a way to assuage the guilt of their indulgences and head off extra pounds at the pass.

Peter Lalish, guitarist for the Brooklyn-based band Elizabeth and the Catapult, said that being on tour with the band "lends itself to a lot more drinking, and then we're on a bus for 10 hours at a time, so when we can, we tend to do a lot of group exercise."

Social Aspects of Drinking, Exercise May Be Intertwined

He says that after a late night at a bar, the band will often do yoga, go biking, or hit the hotel gym as a group and "that's a conscious effort to counteract the drinking."

Work(out) Hard, Play Harder

It could be that certain personality types ascribe to a kind of work hard/play hard philosophy that makes them more likely to do hardcore sports like rock climbing or marathon running and to party hard at the bar afterwards.

Perhaps "people who spend more time exercising for the endorphin rush may also seek the buzz from excess alcohol consumption," says Dr. John Higgins, exercise physiologist at the University of Texas.

Dr. Carl Lavie, director of the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, has run road races for 30 years and noted that "from speaking with numerous fellow runners over the years, my impression is that many heavy exercisers also drink a fair amount of alcohol, often with at least occasional bingeing."

Binge drinking -- defined as more than five drinks in one occasion -- was also associated with more physical activity in the survey; women who had at least one episode of binge drinking per week exercised for 17 more minutes in a typical week than those who had not. Men who binged upped their total exercise by 13 minutes.

Don't Pass Me the Ball, Pass Me a Beer

The Boston Hashers are an extreme example of another explanation mentioned in the paper -- the odd, yet some say amusing, marriage of recreational activities and recreational drinking.

"Both exercise and drinking are aspects of sociability," says Philip Cook, a professor of public policy studies at Duke University. He said that from a men's baseball league that shares a pint at the neighborhood bar afterwards to beer-chugging running clubs, there's no lack of examples of the two avocations going together.

If hashing is not your thing, you could join Cambridge's Amateur Wiffle ball Enthusiasts, who "hydrate" with "pepped-up" Gatorade in between innings, when on the bench, even while playing outfield.

Balancing Exercise and Alcohol

"We're not very good; the bases are almost never loaded, but at least we are," says one member who wished to remain nameless.

While drunken sports are not exactly the poster child of responsible, moderate drinking, French does feel that, on the whole, these findings suggest that people may be striking a balance between their unhealthy and healthy habits.

"In many circles, alcohol use has a bad reputation," he said. "[But] there's a big segment of the population that drinks responsibly, enjoys alcohol, and potentially receives health benefits ... by balancing exercise and alcohol.

"And if drinking alcohol acts as a booster for doing exercise," he adds, "that's not such a bad thing."

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