Alcohol consumption and exercise

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
Alcohol doesn't enhance your athletic performance. In fact, it may make it worse. Even after only a drink or two, your eye-hand coordination, reflexes, and sense of balance are affected. Your visual, hearing, and touch reactions are also slowed down. This means that if you drink alcohol before exercising, you can be at a serious disadvantage, because exercise and sports require coordination and timing. Consuming alcohol also increases your risk of sudden cardiac death during exercise, in direct proportion to the intensity of exercise. Drinking can also interfere with your body's ability to rid itself of excess heat, which can be unhealthful-- and even dangerous-- when you're participating in an endurance sport, such as long-distance running. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 'Alcohol appears to have little or no beneficial effect on the metabolic and physiological responses to exercise. Furthermore, in studies reporting significant effects, the change appeared to be detrimental to performance.' Temporary gains in relaxation and confidence don't compensate for the ultimate losses in coordination and reflexes. It's also not a good idea to drink heavily the night before exercising. Drinking can also make sleeping difficult, leaving you weak and tired the next day, not to mention a possible hangover with symptoms such as nausea, headache, and fatigue.

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