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Alcohol’s Impact on Physical Fitness

There are numerous positive effects of being physically fit such as weight control, decreased risk of developing hypertension, heart disease, type II diabetes, certain cancers, and improved mood. Although in recent years, studies have suggested that red wine may have some positive health benefits for certain populations, only drinking in moderation. The American Heart Association recognizes that physical activity, and certain foods and nutrients, can provide the same benefits without the many negative consequences of alcohol use and abuse, such as increased high blood pressure and heart failure. For more information on this topic, go to

You may be asking: Does alcohol affect your ability to be physically fit?  The answer is yes, such as:

  • Alcohol dehydrates the muscle cells and if your cells cannot hold as much water, it is more difficult to build muscle.
  • Alcohol stunts muscle growth by blocking the absorption of important nutrients.
  • Alcohol impairs your psychological well-being, you may be trying to mask having a bad day and drink to feel better, which does not work.
  • Alcohol is fattening! Our nation is in a crisis of obesity, so if for no other reason, eliminate those empty calories, grab a bottle of water and go for a walk.

If you are having trouble eliminating alcohol or controlling its use, then seek help. The negative effects of alcohol abuse are devastating while the positive effects of physical fitness are rewarding and lifelong. The good news is that physical activity can actually improve your mood and may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, without the calories.  For tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle, check out the Fit City Challenge website at Good luck and good health!

Dianne G. Thomas, Fit City Director
Mecklenburg County Health Department


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