Sunday, February 3, 2013

Alcohol and Running- Friend or Foe?

Lace up shoes, run ten miles, take a shower, open a bottle of wine—it seems like an unlikely order of events, but research has shown that the more an individual exercises, the more he/she consumes alcohol (The Miami Hurricane).  After reading this, my curiosity took the best of me and I jumped into research action.  It is true that I myself take advantage of the ‘burned calories’ to enjoy beer and wine guiltlessly, so does this consumption have a negative or positive effect on my running?

We all know that alcohol dehydrates our bodies and drinking before physical activity causes decreased strength, power, speed, and endurance (American College of Sports Medicine); however, it has been demonstrated that moderate consumption of alcohol has health benefits.  Increase of good cholesterol in bloodstream, lower blood pressure, antioxidants, and disease prevention (Alzheimer’s and Osteoporosis) are the chasers to your glass of wine or beer (The Spread of Alcohol Consumption Behavior in a Large Social Network).  Furthermore, engaging in social situations increases self-esteem and positive life experiences, thus drinks with friends are a ticket to a mental vacation.

Although all this information makes me feel like I should grab a six-pack of Blue Moon, there is also a word of limited consumption for my running friends.  My lady friends should keep their enjoyment to one glass a day to reap the benefits and avoid negative factors.  Water intake should be increased to help the body compensate for any dehydration.  Also, that refreshing glass of wine or beer should not be a replacement for proper refueling.  The carbohydrates in a beer may be intriguing, but these carbs are notoriously ‘bad’.  Make sure to eat and hydrate before reaching for that rewarding drink. 

I am not attempting to push all my running friends to grab a cork screw or bottle opener, but if you relish a beer or glass of wine, there are positive health advantages both physically and psychologically.  

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