North Texas

UNT Researchers Study Effects of Alcohol and Your Workout

How does an intense workout and a night of drinks mix together with your body? That’s a question University of North Texas researchers hope to answer.

Dr. Jakob Vingren and students in UNT’s Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation are currently studying the two activities that, until now, Vingren says have had surprisingly little scientific research.

"We're interested in how does alcohol affect the body's ability to recover after exercise,” said Vingren.

So think of this scenario: you go to the gym to workout, knowing you’ll go out for drinks later that night and hoping the two will kind of cancel each other out. Do they really cancel each other out though?

Vingren and his team wonder if the activities, when combined, could actually have negative effects on the body’s recovery; especially on the muscles or immunity.

Danielle Levitt, a graduate and doctoral student under Vingren, is looking more specifically at the effects of alcohol on women’s workouts and if the combination leads to decreased muscular performance.

Both have received grants from the National Strength and Conditioning Association for the studies.

They are currently working with test subjects who are monitored working out on special, computer interfaced equipment. Some then are given alcoholic drinks while others are in a placebo group, and the effects are measured in the days to follow with more activity.

"We expect them to get up to a B.A.C. of about 0.12,” said Levitt.

The hope is that through the research they can gain a better understanding of how the two activities interact and find better ways for people to balance things out.

"Such as, what about timing?” said Vingren. “What if you separate your drinking from your exercise by more hours? Does that help prevent any potential negative effects? How much can you drink? Is it OK to have maybe two beers, but not 10 beers?"

Because, the researchers say, one thing about alcohol and working out is clear: people do combine the two and can still find success in the gym.

"People that exercise drink as much or more than people that don't exercise. That's pretty clear from large national surveys,” said Vingren.

The team hopes to start analyzing their data this year and preparing their findings for publication by year’s end. From there, they hope they can continue their studies so North Texans can start putting it to work for future New Year’s resolutions.

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