Medical News: Exercise and Alcohol Effect on Health

Prticipation in sport is associated with a with a 20—40% reduction in all-cause mortality compared with non-participation. Exercise might also be considered as a fifth vital sign, according to the Lancet:

Exercise or have a drink? It may be better to exercise AND have a drink

A study of 12,000 people over a 20-year period in Denmark found that exercise and drinking alcohol each had an independent beneficial effect on the heart. The effect was even greater when the two were practiced together. According to TIME magazine:

"People who don't drink at all and don't exercise had the highest risk of heart disease. People who drink moderately and exercise had a 50% lower risk. Teetotaling exercisers had a 30% decreased risk, as did moderately drinking couch potatoes. "There's an additional protective effect to doing both," says Gronbaek. "That's the new finding."

Weekly alcohol intake was inversely associated with fatal ischemic heart disease and had a U-shaped association with all-cause mortality.

The combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on fatal ischaemic heart disease and all-cause mortality. European Heart Journal 2008 29(2):204-212.
Work Out and Drink Up. TIME.
CNN Video: Alcohol and the heart.
A glass of wine daily may prolong life. How you can you predict which patient will have a bottle daily though?
Drinking Alcohol Daily Seems to Cut the Risk for Coronary Artery Disease the Most
Image source: Wikipedia.

Exercise slows telomere shortening (and aging)

Telomeres are the chromosome tips which shorten each time a cell divides, making them a possible marker of aging. A study of 2400 twins showed that physically active people had longer telomeres than sedentary people. According to the authors, this provides a powerful message that could be used by clinicians to promote the potentially antiaging effect of regular exercise.

Human chromosomes (grey) capped by telomeres (white). Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

You need little more than your own body weight to exercise. This is a mnemonic and a mind map for exercises that can be done with just body weight: PLSS

P ushups
S itups
L unges
S quats

The Association Between Physical Activity in Leisure Time and Leukocyte Telomere Length. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(2):154-158.
Physically Active People May Be a Decade Younger, Biologically, Than Sedentary People, WebMD.
How to stay healthy while traveling
Staying a Step Ahead of Aging. NYTimes, 01/31/2008.
Rethinking Drinking - NIH interactive website


  1. Same old story: people that don't exercise and don't drink might have some health problem thus introducing bias.

  2. As a physician, would you ever advise a non alcoholic to start drinking?

    Wouldn't that be too risky?

    What if in the next couple of years they find some beneficial effects for nicotine, would we start encouraging people to smoke a cigarette a day?!