Healthy living

Drinkers think exercise can "make up" for booze

Zone default image Health risk can't be undone

Nearly four million adults in England think they can burn off the booze through exercise, according to the results of new research.

A government survey of 2,421 adults carried out by YouGov found that almost 1 in 5 drinkers who exercise regularly think they can "make up" for having drunk a lot of alcohol in the previous few days.

The online poll also revealed that 1 in 5 people questioned drank more than double the recommended daily amounts of alcohol. And over a quarter of those who also exercised thought they could counteract the ill effects of alcohol.

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said: “Everyone knows that regularly taking part in physical activity is important for maintaining good health.

“But the truth is, if you have a big night at the pub, you’re not going to compensate with a workout the following day. Damage from regularly drinking too much can slowly creep up and you won't see it until it's too late."

GP and broadcaster Dr Carol Cooper said that people may think going for a run or a swim can simply undo any damage caused by over-indulgence in alcohol.

She said: “Regular exercise is vital for staying healthy, so on the one hand it is encouraging that so many heavy drinkers recognise their drinking habits aren't good for them, and that they want to make up for it by taking exercise.

“But people need to be aware that regularly drinking double the recommended limits comes with health risks that can't simply be burnt off down the gym, in the pool, or on the football pitch.”

Men who regularly drink more than eight units a day (about three pints of lager) and women who regularly drink more than six units a day (about two large glasses of wine) are considered by the NHS to be at 'higher risk' of harming their health.

Dr Cooper added that both men and women drinking at this level were more than five times more likely than non-drinkers to suffer mouth cancer and more than three times more likely to have a stroke.

More information

Do you know how much you're drinking?

This article was published on Thu 26 November 2009

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