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Heavy Drinkers Try To Burn Off Booze With Exercise

November 27, 2009

According to new research, more than 3.8 million adults in England are misguidedly trying to burn off the booze with exercise.

A YouGov survey, on behalf of the Know Your Limits campaign shows that 19 percent of adults in England who exercise regularly and drink alcohol admit to taking exercise or playing sport in order to ‘make up’ for having drunk a lot of alcohol in the previous few days.

The figure rose to 28 percent among heavier drinkers.

Experts warned that while exercise can help with weight loss and keep the heart healthy, it would not counteract the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, such as liver cancer, mouth cancer and strokes.

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.”

The UK government is helping people to understand how much they are drinking through our Know Your Limits campaign.

GP and broadcaster Dr Carol Cooper is supporting the Know Your Limits campaign, and is worried 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 recognize 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. Both are more than five times more likely than non-drinkers to suffer mouth cancer and more than three times more likely to have a stroke.

The Know Your Limits campaign has teamed up with the fitness industry this month to raise awareness among gym-goers about the impact drinking too much can have on their exercise goals and long-term health. Nearly 500 gyms and leisure centers across England are taking part in a month-long campaign, including one of the UK’s largest fitness chains, Fitness First, which has been out on the streets encouraging people to fill out drink diaries.

Fitness First UK’s National Fitness Manager, Derek Crawford said, “We understand that people like to socialize and have a drink, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However it makes sense to monitor the unit consumption over a period of time because if the consumption exceeds the recommended units, this may have an adverse affect on a person’s fitness performance not to mention their overall health and wellbeing.”

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