New study says exercise may undo the damage drinking does to your health.

By Macaela Mackenzie
Updated: September 09, 2016
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As much as we focus on our health #goals, we're not immune to the occasional happy hour with coworkers, or celebrating a promotion by champagne popping with our BFFs (and hey, Red Wine Can Actually Help Your Fitness Goals). It's all about balance, right? Luckily, there's good news for those of us worried about the damage moderate drinking might be doing to our health. Sticking to a regular exercise schedule can undo some of that damage, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia looked at data from more than 36,000 men and women in their 40s and older over a period of 10 years, specifically stats on alcohol consumption (some people never drank, some drank in moderation, and some went way overboard), weekly exercise schedules (some people were inactive, some hit suggested requirements, and some were gym superstars) and overall mortality rates for everyone.

First, the bad news: Any drinking, even within the official guidelines, upped the risk of early mortality, especially from cancer. Yikes. But here's the good news: Getting even the minimum amount of physical activity (which is just 2.5 hours of moderate-to-intense exercise per week) reduced that risk overall and nearly negated the risk of early death from cancer.

Even better? The type of exercise didn't seem to matter, according to Emmanuel Stamatakis, Ph.D., lead author on the study. (So, follow your exercise bliss.) And the exercise didn't need to be crazy-hard. A lot of people reported even light activities like walking, and the gym superstars didn't seem to get any extra credit when it came to offsetting the cancer risk associated with drinking. Exercise consistency was key-not vigor. Cheers to that! We suggest starting with the 10 Best Exercises for Women.

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