Increased Physical Activity Lowers Risk For Alcoholism, Study Finds

By Brent McCluskey 02/05/15

Researchers claimed more physical activity means the less likely one could become an alcoholic.

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Everyone knows regular exercise keeps you in shape and is good for your body, but according to a new study, it can also lower your risk for alcohol abuse.

The study out of Denmark followed 18,000 adults for 20 years and found that those participants who reported being more active were less likely to abuse alcohol. While the study authors have yet to determine a causal relationship, they’re confident one exists.

“Although we, and for that matter, others have not proven a causal relationship between physical activity and risk of developing alcohol use disorders, it is likely that there is a causal link,” said Dr. Ulrik Becker of the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen, coauthor of the report.

Surveys were sent to each of the 18,000 study participants measuring their level of physical activity and rate of alcohol and drug use. Nearly half the participants reported high levels of physical activity of more than four hours per week while only 10% reported being sedentary.

Those who were sedentary were 30 to 40% more likely to abuse alcohol compared to those who worked out. Ultimately, 736 participants, or 4% of the original group, were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.

However, Michael T. French, who directs the Health Economics Research Group at the University of Miami, conducted a similar study that yielded different results. His study showed that those who worked out more also drank more.

“Like the study of ours, the most you can say is that there seems to be an association,” French said. “They are hypothesizing that less physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle is going to affect your risk of an alcohol use disorder. It’s equally possible that acquiring a disorder is going to lead to a sedentary lifestyle.”

“It’s an interesting topic worth exploring, but I would be cautious when interpreting the results,” French said.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.