Alcohol and Exercise

by Jonah Lehrer

A counterintuitive finding: people who regularly drink alcohol also exercise more. Obviously, there are plenty of confounding variables here - maybe drinkers exercise in order to burn off that six-pack of beer - but it's yet another piece of evidence suggesting that booze, at least when consumed in moderation, isn't a public health threat.

Using data from a government health survey of U.S. adults, researchers found that in general, the amount of time people devoted to exercise tended to inch up along with the number of alcoholic drinks they had each month.

Compared with abstainers, those considered heavy drinkers -- at least 46 drinks in the past month for women, and 76 or more for men -- exercised for an average of 20 minutes more per week. Meanwhile, moderate drinkers -- which included women who had 15 to 45 drinks in a month, and men who had 30 to 75 -- got 10 extra minutes of exercise each week.

Findings like this make me wonder why most states have a sin tax on alcohol - a drink that seems to protect the heart, prevent dementia, raise levels of good HDL cholesterol and makes us go jogging - but our politicians lack the courage to raise taxes on the empty calories of soda drinks, which are a driving force behind the obesity epidemic.