By David Saunders | UPDATED: 14:42, 11 December 2019
It may be the time of Christmas indulgence right now, but 2020 is around the corner and many of us will be attempting to stick to our resolutions. But did you know that alcohol is actually the secret to keeping your fitness resolution?
We all know alcohol isn’t good for our bodies, but few of us realise the full impact it can have on our well-being. Data from Firstbeat shows that compared with non-drinkers, those who drink are more stressed and recover less during the day, and sleep considerably worse throughout the night. January is a time when many people begin drastic new fitness regimes and proper recovery is even more important.
Amassed data comparing over 32,000 people showed the consistent trend of worsened well-being when consuming alcohol. Continuing drinking, in conjunction with a drastic fitness overhaul could lead to short-term burnout, acute stress issues, dysfunctional immune system and many other problems – inevitably leading you to cancelling your plans for a revitalised, fitter you.
“Having as little as one unit of alcohol in your system at bedtime can delay the onset of restorative sleep by around one hour. Even just having two large glasses of wine (approximately 6 units) late in the evening and sleeping for six hours means you may not get any restorative sleep, and therefore won’t recover overnight.” says Nigel Stockill, Performance Director at Firstbeat. “Alcohol is a toxin, and the body treats it as such, raising the heart rate and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.”
“Heavy exercise also taxes the body, with very intense exercise causing cortisol levels to rise significantly, studies show.” says Tiina Hoffman, Exercise Physiologist and Master Trainer for Firstbeat. The combination of continued drinking and a drastic new exercise regime could cause serious problems for some people. Alcohol lowers your heart rate variability (HRV), which means your body is worse equipped to deal with other stressors, such as intense exercise.
The expert advice.
If you want to stick to your fitness resolution, try and give up or cut down on alcohol intake too. Not only will it complement your goals, helping to reduce calorie intake and make you feel better; but you will also recover from your workouts better, be less stressed at work and sleep better.