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Health Benefits of Exercise Now Include Lower Alcoholism Risk

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Here's another perk to regular workouts: They may lower your risk of becoming an alcoholic, according to a new study from Denmark. (With Binge Drinking on the Rise, How Much Is Really Too Much?)

Adults who were more active over 20 years were less likely to need treatment or hospitalization for alcohol abuse than those who didn’t raise their heart rate in their free time, reports the study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. Men and women who reported moving a mere two hours a week or more were 30 to 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder than those in the sedentary group. (Which is especially great considering Booze Kills 3.3 Million People Every Year.)

It’s not that active individuals are less likely to drink. In fact, on the days you work out, you're more likely to drink, according to a study in the journal Health Psychology. But hitting the gym may protect you in other ways: “We know from other studies that physical activity reduces the risk of other psychiatric problems, and that physical activity increases the benefit of treatment in alcohol use disorder patients,” said co-author Ulrik Becker, M.D., professor at the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen.

Genetics still play a role—in fact, this is more than half of what determines alcohol use disorders, Becker says. But environmental factors, like physical activity, are also very important—and this study is yet another reason you should get up and move. (Feel like you’ve been imbibing a little too much lately? Consider a Dry January: Why You Should Quit Drinking for One Month.)

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