Photographed by Aaron Richter.
Finding a way to replace our favorite boozy pastime with a healthier one seems like the adult thing to do (or so we're told). But, a new study suggests we don't actually have to trade in one for the other. In fact, research shows we're likely to go a little harder at the gym on the very same day we go hard at the bar.
The study, recently published online in the journal Health Psychology, analyzed previously gathered data for 150 people (51% were women) ages 19 to 89. The data was gathered in three 21-day measurement periods, during which participants used a smartphone app to keep track of how often and how much they drank alcohol and exercised. Participants also completed demographic surveys at the beginning and end of each measurement period.
Results showed that although normal exercise and drinking amounts weren't correlated (contrary to previous findings), people did tend to drink more than usual on days when they were also more physically active than usual. And, this was most likely to happen Thursday through Sunday. Neither gender nor age had any significant impact on the findings, suggesting that we are all susceptible to the classic gym-to-day-drinking pattern, forever.
This study does get props for not being retrospective (the smartphone app allowed the researchers to collect somewhat real-time data). But, it still comes with the usual disclaimers about self-reported studies (sometimes, people lie) and correlational analyses (there's no reason to believe that drinking causes us to exercise more, or vice versa). Plus, there's the unsurprising fact that people tend to have more free time on the weekend — for both drinking and exercising.
So, maybe we feel like we really deserve an extra beer if we just ran an extra mile. Or, maybe we're just more likely to exercise and drink on a day when we actually have the time to do either one. Either way, all this moving and boozing is even more reason to stay hydrated. We learned the hard way that beer isn't quite the ideal post-workout snack.