Page last updated: Monday, February 09, 2009
Exercise, alcohol and heart health/ fatal heart attacks
Researchers at the National Institute of Public Health in Denmark studied 12,000 men and women over a period of 20 years to see if exercise and moderate alcohol consumption are interchangeable as regards cardio protection.

The medical investigators found:

The lowest risk of fatal heart disease occurred among those who both drank moderately and exercised. They had a 50% reduced risk compared to non-drinkers who didn’t exercise. (Moderate drinking was defined as consuming an average of up to two drinks per day for both men and women of 12g).

A higher risk was found among (a) those who abstained from alcohol but exercised and (b) those who drank in moderation but didn’t exercise. In both cases the risk of heart disease dropped about 30% compared to abstaining non-exercisers.

The highest risk was found among those who neither drank nor exercised. Their risk of dying from heart disease was twice as high as those who drank moderately and exercised.

The medical research indicates that moderate drinking and exercising are not interchangeable but are cumulative in their positive effects on the cardiovascular system. Doing one is better than nothing, but doing both is the best choice of all and dramatically reduces the risk death from heart attack. The same was also found for all-cause mortality.

Source: Pedersen, Jane Østergaard, Berit Lilienthal Heitmann, Berit, Schnohr, Peter, and Grønbæk, Morten. The combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on fatal ischaemic heart disease and all-cause mortality.

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