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Study explains surprising link between physical fitness and drinking more alcohol

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Story at a glance

  • People who work out regularly are more likely to drink higher amounts of alcohol, one study found.
  • The study was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
  • Researchers found that men and women with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were twice as likely to drink a “moderate amount” of alcohol than their less fit peers.

A new study suggests that those who are more aerobically fit are more likely to imbibe in alcohol. 

The study, called “Fit and Tipsy?” was recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and found that active men and women are at least twice as likely to be moderate or heavy drinkers than their less fit counterparts. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking for men as consuming four or more drinks in a day, or 14 in a week, and for women as consuming three or more drinks in a day, or seven in a given week. 


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Researchers at The Cooper Institute in Dallas and other institutions studied the data of roughly 40,000 men and women who regularly completed aerobic tests on treadmills at the Cooper Clinic and filled out questionnaires about their drinking habits, according to Inside Hook. All those who took part in the study were at least 21 years old and reported drinking at least once a week, according to The New York Times.

Researchers found moderately fit men and women were about twice as likely to be moderate-to-heavy drinkers, compared to their less fit counterparts. Men in the high fitness categories were still about twice as likely to be moderate-to-heavy drinkers, whereas the fittest women were more than twice as likely. 

Researchers are unclear as to what exactly is the link between increased physical fitness and alcohol consumption. 

“There are probably social aspects,” said Kerem Shuval, executive director of epidemiology at the Cooper Institute and the study’s lead. Shuval added that more research still needs to be done on the connection. 


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