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Drinkers Exercise More than Abstainers, Study Finds

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A new study finds that moderate and even heavy drinkers tend to be more active than those who abstain from alcohol, a counterintuitive finding that seems to defy easy explanation by researchers.

Reuters reported Aug. 31 that researcher Michael T. French of the University of Miami and colleagues found that heavy drinkers exercised 20 minutes more per week than nondrinkers, while moderate drinkers exercised 10 minutes more weekly. Heavy drinking was defined as consuming 76 alcoholic drinks monthly for men and 46 drinks per month for women, while moderate drinking was defined as consuming between 30 and 75 drinks monthly for men and 15 to 45 drinks for women.

Drinkers were more likely to engage in vigorous exercise than nondrinkers, as well.

Researchers said that the study should not be viewed as an enticement to drink. They speculated that some drinkers exercise to burn off alcohol calories or may be sensation-seekers prone to both drinking and exercise. Or, they said, moderate drinking could just be part of an overall “healthy” lifestyle.

The study appears in the September/October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

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