We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study.
On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday through Sunday, researchers found that they also drink more alcohol.
“Monday through Wednesday people batten down the hatches and they cut back on alcohol consumption,” lead author David E. Conroy says. “But once that ‘social weekend’ kicks off on Thursdays, physical activity increases and so does alcohol consumption.”
The study’s 150 participants, ages 18 to 89, tracked their physical activity and drinking habits via smartphone for three-week periods three times throughout the year.
The researchers found that, across all ages and levels of fitness, when people are more active they tend to drink more than on days with less activity. The study did not ask people their reasons for drinking.
“Perhaps people reward themselves for working out by having more to drink, or maybe being physically active leads them to encountering more social situations where alcohol is consumed — we don’t know,” Conroy says.
The professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University says this method gave a more accurate picture of people’s behavior versus typical self-assessments. Instead of having to remember the previous 30 days, participants used the smartphone to keep a day-by-day diary, which makes them less likely to misremember or turn to biases about themselves, he says.