Objective: Hypothesizing that people who moderate their alcohol intake engage in other health-promoting cardioprotective behavior, this research explored associations between alcohol consumption and leisure-time physical activity.
Method: Data representative of the U.S. population (N = 41,104; 52.5% women) were derived from the 1990 National Health Interview Survey, which employed a multistage probability design. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed, using lifetime abstainers as the reference group.
Results: An inverted J-shaped curve characterized the association between estimates of alcohol consumption and leisure-time physical activity, in which likelihood of displaying a physically active lifestyle (odds ratios) increased from abstinence (1.00) to moderate drinking (1.84), then declined at heavier consumption (1.61). Stratified analyses yielded similar results with peaks at light or moderate consumption for current smokers, persons aged 55 and over, and those with cardiovascular risk conditions. As activity intensity increased, the inverted J-shaped curve persisted with more pronounced peaks at moderate drinking.
Conclusions: Robust findings of an association between cardioprotective leisure-time physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption provide evidence for a health-promoting lifestyle that may play an explanatory role in the alcohol-coronary heart disease relationship.