In a finding wildly at odds with my own experience, research shows that the more people drink the more they tend to exercise.
The study, based on replies from an annual telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of American adults about their health habits, found that “drinking is associated with a 10.1 percentage point increase in the probability of exercising vigorously,” the authors write. More specifically, “heavy drinkers exercise about 10 more minutes per week than current moderate drinkers and about 20 more minutes per week than current abstainers.” Meanwhile, the authors continue, “an extra episode of binge drinking increases the number of minutes of total and vigorous physical activity per week for both women and men.”
Now, let’s be honest: You call a bunch of drunks and ask them if they work out, they’re gonna say, “Yeah, sure” as they cradle the phone between their head and shoulder while furiously trying to take the top off of the fucking aspirin bottle. But let’s suppose for the moment that the study holds true. There are even more disturbing revelations.
Finally, it may be that exercising allows you to become a little less stupid as a result of binge drinking. Binge drinking does, as you may have heard, kill brain cells. Repeated animal studies have shown that even one episode of serious binge drinking leads to a slaughter of brain cells, particularly in the dentate gyrus, a portion of the brain associated with memory and emotion. But a study by Dr. Leasure and her colleagues published last year showed that when rats exercised for two weeks before being allowed to binge drink, they lost fewer cells due to cell death in their dentate gyrus.
This registers with me on a deeply personal level: I have of late, but wherefore I know not, been getting increasingly less proficient in the basic human endeavors one learns to negotiate as a child. When I shower, I somehow get shampoo in my eyes, which hasn’t happened since I was seven. It burns! I can no longer crack an egg — the first culinary skill my mother taught me as a little boy and something I remain stupidly proud of in that way your earliest achievements seem to stick with you longest — without several pieces of shell ending up in the bowl. I have put my boxers on backwards three times in the last week alone, which, because I am lazy and hate to take my shoes off once they’re on, has resulted in my standing in front of the toilet with my pants around my ankles like some common masturbator just to perform the simple act of urination. Um, okay, probably telling you too much here. Anyway, my point is this: I am clearly regressing. In six months I will be accidentally biting the fork when I eat and dribbling liquid down the front of my shirt when I take a sip from a glass. Because there is no history of dementia in my family, I can only assume this is a result of my deep love affair with drink. Please, please, please, Science, do not tell me I need to start exercising to prevent any further collapse. It would be the absolute final indignity.