Exercise May Improve Your Drinking Experience, According To Double Edged Sword Of A Study

The old adage “Work hard, play hard” might as well be changed to “work out hard — play harder,” according to new studies. For those of you who hit the gym then reward yourself with a crisp glass of ‘grigio after, it should come as no surprise that exercise may make drinking more fun.

People who seek that endorphin high from exercise might be more likely to look for other highs, such as that martini-induced buzz. In a recent study done by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, a group of 150 adults between the ages of 19 and 89 communicated with scientists via a smartphone app to record daily drinking and exercise pursuits. Over the course of a year, the participants used the app to record their activities in three 21-day bursts, covering different seasons. After data was collected and processed, an incontrovertible link between exercise and ensuing drinking was found. The study published in Health Psychology said the correlation held true for all participants despite age and gender, “people drank more than usual on the same days that they engaged in more physical activity than usual.” So if you find the days when you take that extra intense yoga class are also the ones that you have a few too many mimosas — you're not alone!

But why might this be the case? A review of research examining the link between exercise and alcohol consumption, tried to get to the bottom of this. The trend supposedly goes against the logic that healthy behaviors beget other healthy behaviors. Such as, people who work out are more likely to eat healthy and getting enough sleep. Hence, exercise shouldn’t lead to a behavior that is not necessarily health-promoting, like drinking.


In studies done with lab rodents, alcohol and exercise both have been found to increase activity in the reward processing part of the brain. Hopping on that plastic wheel for some intense cardio and then sipping that ethanol could be more similar than you think to sweating it up at SoulCycle then heading out to the local bar. Both are processed enjoyably but differently by the brain, which might explain why they go hand in hand. “The resulting neurological high appears to be generally more pervasive and lasting than with either activity alone,” explained the New York Times. However, humans' reason for drinking may be a little more complicated than those of our furry friends, according to Dr. ​J. Leigh Leasure, associate professor at the University of Houston and a behavioral neuroscientist. Social bonding (in the gym and at the bar) may play a role in promoting the link, and some people use exercise as a way to burn the calories associated with drinking.

Luckily, there is no research showing that exercise can lead to exacerbated imbibing. So go ahead — get your drink on!


Images: pixabay, giphy