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New Year’s Resolutions That Work Well Together: Drink Less/Exercise More

After the holiday festivities and the excess that often accompanies them, many people are ready to wipe the slate clean and resolve to improve their health during the next 12 months. For many individuals, this means cutting down on their alcohol intake and engaging in more healthy exercise. These two common New Year’s resolutions are more in sync than you may imagine.

Many studies show that cutting down on your drinking can help strengthen your bones, muscles, and nerves, making exercising easier, more comfortable, and more productive. It can also make exercising less dangerous. 

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our doctors are physiatrists who specialize in pain relief and restoration of function. As holistic physicians, we are well aware of the body-mind connection and work hard to help our patients understand the interaction between their health and mobility and their lifestyle choices. Let’s take a look at some of the ways drinking too much alcohol can be detrimental to your ability to exercise.

1. Alcohol abuse negatively affects the bones.

Numerous studies have shown that alcohol abuse can lead to, or exacerbate, the bone loss of osteoporosis, increasing the risk of fracture and interfering with the growth of new bone. 

2. Heavy drinking can cause muscle breakdown.

Alcohol abuse can cause rhabdomyolysis, a potentially life-threatening breakdown of muscle fibers as well as proximal myopathy, a symmetrical weakness of the upper or lower limbs. Well before the situation gets to that point, however, excess alcohol affects coordination and balance adversely. It causes muscle weakness, cramping, and neuropathy (tingling or numbness), making it more likely you will fall or otherwise injure yourself whether you’re exercising or not.

3. Alcohol is inflammatory.

Alcohol generally has an inflammatory effect on the body, especially if used in excess. This is especially true of mixed drinks, which contain high amounts of sugar. Since inflammation makes the pain of arthritis, gout, and musculoskeletal injuries more severe, alcohol can make exercise more painful due to pre-existing conditions as well as injuries.

4. Alcohol makes it more difficult to build muscle.

It is well-known that human growth hormone (HGH) is necessary to help build, strengthen, and maintain muscle tissue. Because alcohol interferes with the way HGH functions, it decreases the body’s ability to increase muscle strength. Abuse of alcohol also lessens the power of muscles to recover after exercise or injury.

5. Excessive alcohol interferes with restful sleep.

Although too much alcohol can make you sleep (or pass out), alcohol has been proven to interrupt normal sleep patterns. This not only decreases energy and alertness but interferes with the normal functioning of the immune system, thereby getting in the way of healthy exercise.

6. Alcohol acts as a diuretic.

This means that too much alcohol increases the amount of urine the body produces, causing the body to lose fluid and dehydrate. As you probably know, dehydration is an enemy of those seeking healthy exercise. 

7. Alcohol slows nerve function.

Since nerves communicate essential messages throughout the body, too much alcohol adversely impacts reaction time and accurate voluntary movement as well as coordination and balance, making it harder to exercise and more likely you will be injured.

For all of the above reasons, resolving to lessen your alcohol intake and begin or restart a thoughtful exercise regimen early this year are good ideas that complement one another well. 

The stronger you make your body by not overindulging in alcohol, the better able you will be to exercise successfully without risking disease or injury.

Contact Our Experienced Physiatrists Today

If you need guidance in regard to your exercise program or are dealing with an injury or condition that keeps you from reaching your full physical potential, get in touch with our trained doctors for skilled, compassionate diagnosis and treatment. We have numerous therapeutic options. Contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine now for the personalized attention you deserve.