Do alcohol consumers exercise more? findings from a national survey

Michael T. French, Ioana Popovici, Johanna Catherine Maclean

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

81 Scopus citations


Purpose. Investigate the relationship between alcohol consumption and physical activity because understanding whether there are common determinants of health behaviors is critical in designing programs to change risky activities. Design. Cross-sectional analysis. Setting. United States. Subjects. A sample of adults representative of the U.S. population (N= 230,856) from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Measures. Several measures of drinking and exercise were analyzed. Specifications included numerous health, health behavior, socioeconomic, and demographic control variables. Results. For women, current drinkers exercise 7.2 more minutes per week than abstainers. Ten extra drinks per month are associated with 2.2 extra minutes per week of physical activity. When compared with current abstainers, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers exercise 5.7, 10.1, and 19.9 more minutes per week. Drinking is associated with a 10.1 percentage point increase in the probability of exercising vigorously. Ten extra drinks per month are associated with a 2.0 percentage point increase in the probability of engaging in vigorous physical activity. Light, moderate, and heavy drinking are associated with 9.0, 14.3, and 13.7 percentage point increases in the probability of exercising vigorously. The estimation results for men are similar to those for women. Conclusions. Our results strongly suggest that alcohol consumption and physical activity are positively correlated. The association persists at heavy drinking levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-10
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009



  • Alcohol
  • Behavioral
  • Exercise
  • Health behavior
  • Health consciousness
  • Health focus: Fitness/physical activity
  • Lifestyle
  • Outcome measure: Physical activity
  • Prevention research. Manuscript format: Research
  • Research purpose: Modeling/relationship testing
  • Sensation seeking
  • Setting: State/ national
  • Strategy: Skill building/behavior change
  • Study design: Nonexperimental
  • Target population age: Adult
  • Target population circumstances: Education/income level and race/ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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