Can Drinking Alcohol Really Cause You to Exercise More?

By Mike Pomranz |

© Ikon Images / Alamy

Researchers have found that people who drink alcohol also exercise more than those who abstain. But is it possible that, as CNN claims, drinking beer can help you “stick with your exercise resolution” this New Year? Well, correlation is one thing; proving causation is another.

Still, the news channel set out to see whether beer really can work as an exercise motivator. Some of their findings were intriguing. Beer might inspire people on a social level, said Mike Zamzow, who runs exercise classes at his brewery Bull Falls. “There may be some who come to the class who figure out they're not cut out for this, but when they get into the taproom, their classmates will encourage them to stick with it,” the brewer and owner said. “That wouldn't happen with a regular class when you typically get done with your workout and then get right into your car.”

A beer after a workout also has a “celebration factor,” as CNN puts it. Rewarding yourself for your efforts only seems natural. “You may be feeling good because of the exercise and want to carry on that feeling into the bar,” said Leigh Leasure, an associate professor at the University of Houston. Maybe alcohol is the dangling carrot some people need to get to the gym? Though it’s also possible the correlation might be driven by a different emotion: guilt. A big night out can require a lot of exercise to burn all those extra calories.

Maybe there’s a neurological explanation, too? “There are a lot of parallels in terms of how the brain responds to exercise and alcohol,” Leasure told CNN. “It does make you wonder if people are feeling good when they exercise and people feel good when they have a drink, maybe they continue to seek out that experience.”

And yet, though it’s all very interesting, as far as CNN’s click-worthy headline touting beer as the answer to all your 2016 exercise goals… I’m still not entirely sure that the assertion holds water. However, if you’re looking for an excuse to drink, saying you hope it’ll make you exercise sounds like a pretty good excuse to me… once your friends finish laughing at you, of course.

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