On exercising– or not– while (even a little bit) drunk

CW: discussion of drinking alcohol while exercising.

Maybe it’s a slow exercise-related news week, but for whatever reason, Slate published an article examining working out while being (mildly) inebriated from alcohol. I suppose this isn’t totally shocking, as there are occasional running races, bike races, and even yoga classes incorporating beer or wine or liquor as festive add-ons. Tracy wrote about the “yoga and..” trend in 2017 with a bit of weariness. You can read it here.

There’s more than festive novelty going on in this article, however. The author is talking about the difficulty of doing workouts involving weights, cardio (read burpees, etc.) at home, in an environment not tailored to exercise. Feeling awkward or unmotivated, or lonely– missing the companionship and belonging from being in a collective workout space– makes it harder to exercise. The proposed solution: a shot and a half of liquor (your choice, but gin was mentioned approvingly).

The author goes through a few potential reasons why so-called small amounts of alcohol might facilitate exercise programs:

  • Lowered inhibition, reducing feelings of awkwardness of home workouts
  • possible increased motivation from the dopamine release that alcohol consumption releases

But once these potential advantages are examined, some expert says “no, that’s not a good reason at all”. Lowered inhibition can lead to injury (obvs), and dopamine release doesn’t obviously lead to increased motivation to exercise more, but rather a desire to drink more (and exercise less).

In my view, what’s really going on in the article (and in cases in the real world where people are using whatever substances in concert with physical activity) is that our lives don’t always allow us to enjoy physical activity in the ways we want. Here’s an example from the article:

[for] Shannon Sassone, a 33-year-old podcast producer, moderation is key. She has exactly one glass of rosé in the free hour between work and her spin class, and arrives on time feeling pretty much sober. A touch of alcohol brings Sassone back to her glacial life in Denver—before she moved to New York—when every 12-mile hike was accompanied by copious craft brews. “Maybe a rosé before working out gives me that little sunshine feeling I used to get when sitting outside with a beer in hand, satisfied with my efforts,” she told me.

All I can say here is: Shannon honey, put down the glass and go out to Central Park for a nice nature walk, if you’re missing being outside. Maybe consider moving back to Colorado– it sounds like you had nice friends to hike and socialize with.

Seriously, though: we’ve all been though a lot, both because of the pandemic and because of life’s twists and turns. We’re feeling lonely, out of place and out of sync, in need of movement and the good feelings that come with it. But it’s hard to find the right times and places and feelings to propel us into the zones of activity. Rewards, workout pals, preparation– we’ve talked on this blog about all sorts of ways to help make activity an easier part of our lives. If it comes down to it, I’m going to rent a goat before cracking open a bottle of rose in order to get myself in motion.

Yoga class with goats
This yoga class has a lot of goats.

What about you, dear readers? I’ve love to hear what you think.

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