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Friday, June 8, 2012

Work Hard Play Hard

You are at the gym everyday and train hard for 2 hours per day. Evening comes and the cocktails start flowing. The next day you are up early to hit a morning spin class before work, and you are back in the gym after work hitting the weights hard. Evening comes and you are at your local Cactus Club with your friends drinking pint after pint.

Does this sound like you?

Studies have shown that more than 230,000 men and women revealed that, on average, drinkers of both genders and all ages were 10 percent more likely to engage in vigorous exercise. Heavy drinkers exercised 10 minutes more each week than moderate drinkers, and 20 minutes more than non drinkers. An extra bender actually increased the number of minutes of total and vigorous exercise the men and women did that week.

A simple theory scientists have to support the drinking-exercise connection is the morning-after guilt. For example, the party girl who downs a few margaritas, and maybe some nachos, feels the need to make up for those calories by punishing themselves in the gym the next morning.

It actually amazes me how many people do this to themselves on a daily basis. This does not work! Yes you may burn some of the calories off, but in the long run will come over-training, injuries and your mind left at a terrible and dark spot. What I mean is body image issues, obsessiveness and possible eating disorders.

But exercising to make up for the sins of the night before doesn't explain why someone would chase a spin class with a round of drinks, which is also very common. This could be the product of a "work hard, play hard" personality type. For others it may be just to blow off stress.

Excessive drinking can lead to apoptosis, or cell death in the brain. Daily workouts on the other hand, dramatically increase neurotrophin production so you can make new brain cells.

Don't be fooled into thinking your daily trip to the gym gives you a free pass at the bar, or even the buffet table. Being fit can trick you into thinking you will never suffer the ill effects of drinking, such as liver disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and even trick you into thinking that you could never turn into an alcoholic.

A women's fluctuating hormones make matters worse for our bodies since estrogen affects alcohol metabolism. Women can also fall victim to alcohol-related illnesses more easily then men. We are more likely to develop liver disorders and are more prone to alcohol-related brain and heart damage. Alcohol also increases our chances of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately excessive alcohol consumption can lead to all of these no matter how much you exercise.

Too much booze is also just plain bad for your exercise performance. If you have a goal in mind, drinking five or more drinks on any one occasion affects the brain and body for several days. Even small amounts, can hurt your fitness on nearly every level. That itself to me is not worth it.

I am not saying to stop drinking completely. Small amounts of alcohol can actually be good for our health. A glass of red wine can be good for our heart and our blood, and studies have shown that a person who chooses to have one drink will tend to stay away from dessert, which can save you from a few calories.

Be smart with your choices. Exercise should be rewarding and fun, and not used to punish yourself for something bad you did to your body the night before. If you think you have a problem with food or alcohol, do not be afraid to go speak to someone to get professional advice.



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