Two hours of exercise a week can combat the effects of alcohol

10 September 2016
By Fashion Quarterly

Young woman choosing right music for the morning rung

Yet another great reason to get moving.

Exercise, in whatever form – jogging, cycling or even walking (shopping may count) – for at least two and a half hours a week has been shown to offset the bad effects of too much drinking, new research suggests.

Current health guidelines state men and women should stop drinking at 14 units a week – that’s equal to seven medium glasses of wine or pints of beer.

While sticking to the recommended guidelines helps in terms of managing your health, the research found that drinking – even within the guidelines – could up your chances of dying an early death by 16 per cent or increase cancer risk by 47 per cent.

It’s sobering stuff.

But, in trying to find a way to counter these ill effects, scientists at University College London (UCL) and the University of Sydney developed a research-based theory that drinking alcohol and exercising share a similar metabolic pathway in the body but operate in opposing directions.

What this means is that alcohol forces the liver to abandon its work getting rid of fatty acids, exercise does the reverse, using up fat as fuel. So drinking is damaging to health but exercise is protective.

The research published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that: “Stratified analysis showed that the association between alcohol intake and mortality risk was attenuated (all-cause) or nearly nullified (cancer) among individuals who met the physical activity recommendations.”

Their findings showed 150 minutes a week, that’s around two and a half hours, of moderate physical activity could reduce, but not entirely eliminate, someone’s chances of dying from any cause, according to their study of 36, 370 British patients.

But of course, all this comes with a catch, with the experts saying people should not think they can drink whatever amount they want then offset it with exercise.

The study’s authors believe their findings can promote good health and reduce some of the harmful associated effects of drinking, even among those who do no more than the minimum 150 minutes a week.

“Our results provide an additional argument for the role of [physical activity] as a means to promote the health of the population even in the presence of other less healthy behaviours,” they said.

Get your workout technique right, with our handy guide:

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