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Treadmill Workouts May Protect Your Body from Alcohol

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Real talk: Even though we know happy hour does a number on our health, we're still guilty of going out with the gals from time to time  (#notsorry about it). But if we're going to indulge in a night of drinking, we still want to make sure we're being as kind to our bodies as we can be and taking steps to prevent damage. Luckily, a new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine has some promising implications for ways we can prevent—and even reverse—the toll alcohol takes on our health. (Brush up on The Body-Altering Effects of Alcohol.)

Following previous findings that aerobic exercise three times a week reduced and prevented the effects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adults, the researchers wanted to look at how the same idea applied to alcohol-induced effects.

To test their hypothesis, they looked at how chronic alcohol exposure over six weeks affected the health of "runner rats" versus a control group of rats who got no aerobic exercise and no alcohol. Just like in their studies on non-alcohol-related liver issues, the researchers found that physical activity seemed to protect against the metabolic dysfunction that eventually leads to serious liver damage. Despite all the alcohol consumption, they found no increase in triglycerides, insulin, blood glucose, or free fatty acids in the running rats. 

Not only is there good reason to think we'll see the same results in humans, the effects on the body are quickly noticeable, according to Jamal Ibdah, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "There are always short-term and long-term effects from aerobic exercise, but [in this case] the positive effects on the cells are immediate," Ibdah says. "However, it usually takes a few weeks to have any measurable improvement."

In other words, hitting the treadmill before hitting the bar will definitely do your body some good, even if your liver might not start showing it for a few weeks. Kick off girls' night out with a cardio class to keep your bod in its best shape (or try The Anti-Running Treadmill Workout for Total-Body Toning).

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