How Does Alcohol Affect Exercise?

It’s finally Friday and you just got off work. Now you’re thinking about going out later and having a few drinks with your friends and relaxing. After all, you worked hard all week and you certainly deserve a little enjoyment and fun now that the weekend’s here so there’s nothing wrong with going out and having a few drinks with your friends, right?

Anyway, like always, tomorrow is a workout day and since you exercise regularly and take care of yourself a little alcohol won’t hurt anything along the way, right? Well, before you head out to the local pub, here are a few things to consider in making your choice of just how much you really want to drink.

Studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol increase muscular endurance and strength output, but, these benefits are very short lived. After around twenty or so minutes, the problems start. All the negative side affects of alcohol fully outweigh any possible benefits it can have to anyone. Alcohol is a toxin (poison) and so a whole host of physical abnormalities can arise.

These can reduce your strength, endurance, recovery capabilities, aerobic capacity, ability to metabolize fat and muscle growth. Alcohol can also affect your nervous system and brain. Long term use can cause severe deterioration of your central nervous system. With short term use, nerve-muscle interaction can be reduced resulting in a loss of strength.

When alcohol reaches the muscle cells, it can cause damage to them. Inflammation of the muscle cells is common among alcohol users. Over the long term, some of these damaged cells can die resulting in less functional muscle contractions. Alcohol will also leave you with more muscle soreness after exercise making recuperation periods longer.

Alcohol has many affects on your heart and circulatory system as well. You may see a reduction in your endurance capacities when you drink alcohol. When drinking alcohol, your heat loss increases, because alcohol stimulates your blood vessels to dilate. This heat loss can cause your muscles to get cold thus becoming slower and weaker during contractions.

Alcohol can cause digestive and nutritional problems as well. Alcohol causes a release of insulin that will increase the metabolism of glycogen, thereby sparing fat making fat loss more difficult. Because alcohol also can interfere with the absorption of many nutrients, you can become anemic and deficient in the B vitamins. Since your liver is the organ that detoxifies alcohol, the more you drink, the harder you liver has to work and the extra stress can damage and even destroy some liver cells.

Alcohol is also diuretic so large amounts can put a lot of extra stress on your kidneys. During diuretic action, ant diuretic hormones are secreted. This can result in heightened water retention and no one who exercises wants that to happen.

Alcohol, although having no nutritional value, also has seven calories per gram so excess consumption can lead to weight gain as well.

If you must consume alcohol, do so in moderation and never consume alcohol right before exercise as this will impair your balance, coordination and judgment. Remember this, if you’ve taken the time to make the effort to improve your physical conditioning and your overall health, why take major steps backwards and impede you improvements by excess consumption of alcohol?

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