Hitting the gym could cause you to drink a bit more.
The scientists at Pennsylvania State University asked 150 men and women between the ages of 19 and 89 to record their daily drinking and exercise activity. Each subject was required to record their results in a smartphone app for 21 days in a row, during 3 sessions over the course of 1 year. Results clearly showed that there was a connection between exercise and drinking, and even an increase in drinking as physical activity increased. This remained consistent across age groups, genders, and season of the year.
Researchers suggested several factors for this outcome. One being that people tend to reward themselves after feeling that they’ve done something well. In this case, it is alcohol being used as a reward for engaging in physical activity. Also, individuals may feel like their calorie intake is being offset by their exercise, or even that alcohol is a source of rehydration after physical activity.
As a strictly physical factor, people also often feel a “buzz” after performing a workout, and they may be looking to extend that feeling by drinking alcohol.
This isn’t necessarily the first time a correlation between physical activity and alcohol consumption was found. In another study performed by University of Houston, lab rats had a tendency to seek out both physical activity and alcohol, as opposed to one or the other, in order to stimulate the reward-processing signals in their brains.
What has not been found is that exercise causes people to drink heavily or engage in problem drinking. So if you enjoy a drink or two after a hard workout, know that you are definitely not alone.