I recently read an interesting article presenting research exploring the connection between people who exercise frequently and the negative health behaviors with which they choose to engage.
A 2009 study out of the University of Miami which had a response rate of over 230,000 men and women, found that the more people exercise the more they tend to drink, with the most active women consuming the highest amounts per month. This study also suggested those that chose to drink were 10 percent more likely to engage in vigorous activity, and that heavy drinkers exercised an average of 10 minutes more each week than moderate drinkers, and 20 more minutes a week than abstainers.
The article posed several theories to explain these findings. The “working it out to work it off” mentality which means individuals engage in more frequent and vigorous activity as a means to counterbalance a bout of heavy consumption. This mentality is closely related to the “work hard, play hard” concept which states that individuals who believe they work out really hard may be more prone to feel they can have more flexibility when it comes to the calories they are consuming. This is a slippery slope, because the brain gets used to the stimulus which means individuals will need to consume more frequently or higher amounts to feel the same perceived benefits. Another theory posed is the “pleasure principle” which suggests that those who crave physical activity and the chemical stimulation the body releases are more apt to crave the pleasure stimulation that alcohol can also provide.
The article also highlighted three other unhealthy habits in which exercisers tend to engage at higher rates, which include having risky sex, eating disorders (which have recently sky rocketed for adults), and getting sunburned which could lead to serious health issues later in life.
Noting this recent trend, I wonder, what could we as professionals be doing to educate ourselves and our students to employ all-around healthier behaviors?
Yeager, Selene. (March, 2012 ) Running on Empty Bottles. Women’s Health.
Deem, Jenny. (April, 2012 ) The Scary Rise in Adult Eating Disorders. Women’s Health.