Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Exercise and Alcohol TOGETHER provide the most Heart Benefits

Many times while finishing off a bicycle ride in the Texas heat, I think about how refreshing a post-ride beer would taste. Based on this recent report out of Denmark, I can now indulge, guilt-free. A Danish study has found that drinking alcohol in moderation has benefits similar to exercise. And combining exercise and alcohol consumption provides even greater benefits.

If this sounds too good to be true, consider that the research was conducted on 12,000 people over a 20-year period. The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal, was the first to look at the combined influence of exercise and weekly alcohol consumption on the risk of heart disease.

It’s well known that the heart benefits from exercise, but this study has shown that it also benefits from moderate alcohol use. The healthy improvements include an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and a reduction of fatty deposits that are created by bad cholesterol (LDL) in blood vessels.

The Danish researchers found that . . .

  • people who never drink and don't exercise had the highest risk of heart disease
  • people who never drink but do exercise had a 30% lower risk
  • people who drink moderately but never exercise had a 30% lower risk
  • people who drink moderately and exercise had a 50% lower risk

Of course there are conditions to the rule:

The study imposed a limit of one drink a day for women and two for men. However, it did not distinguish among beer, wine and liquor.

The benefits of alcohol don't kick in until you're at the age of 45 to 50 where heart disease becomes an appreciable risk. Holy Mackerel! This is one of the first benefits of getting older that I have ever heard about! I can just imagine doctors advising their patients that once they hit 45, they need to start drinking one a day – for their heart. Cheers!

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  1. Appreciate the comment. I never would have believed a beer could help so much!