In the GTL culture we live in, many people hit the gym to make sure they are in shape for a weekend of drinking. According to a new study, however, people are more likely to drink alcohol on gym (and partying) days, specifically on Thursdays through Sundays.
Researchers at Northwestern Education used smartphones to track the physical activity and alcohol consumption of 150 participants between 18 and 89 years old. The participants self-reported their physical activity and alcohol intake at the end of each day for three weeks at a time, at three different periods throughout a year.
The study published in Health Psychology found that people tend to drink more alcohol on the days they go to the gym. The researchers required the participants to remember one day of activity at a time to reduce the loss of memory or other biases researchers have found in previous studies.
Research into drinking and using the gym has previously been based on self-reports over the span of 30 days. These revealed that those who exercise often also drink often.
The participants were found to drink on the prime day of the week when they are often in social settings. "Perhaps people reward themselves for working out by having more to drink or maybe being physically active leads them to encountering more social situations where alcohol is consumed -- we don't know," lead study author David E. Conroy says.
Pinpointing the link between these variables may help in developing methods for promoting physical activity while regulating alcohol intake.
Generally people are off on the weekend, giving them more time for physical activity. They then reward themselves later by drinking good spirits.
"Monday through Wednesday people batten down the hatches and they cut back on alcohol consumption," says Conroy. On "social weekends" that begin on Thursdays, people become more active. Alcohol intake also rises.
A lack of exercise and frequent alcohol consumption can cause various health complications. "We need to figure out how to use physical activity effectively and safely without having the adverse effects of drinking more alcohol," Conroy says. More studies focusing on the link between drinking and exercise have to be done.