Exercise countering the effects of smoking and drinking.

I have a good friend who is in fantastic shape. At least as far as you can see. He is 43 andworks out religiously. He has a job that allows him time for 3 hour workouts. And even at 43 he turns heads when he takes his shirt off. He easily does an hour on the elliptical or treadmill after his weight training.

He freely admits he works out so hard so that he can continue to smoke and drink. He drinks 4-8 beers every night, with few exceptions, and smokes 1/2 a pack a day.

He believes that his exercise regimen neutralizes the effects of his partying ways. In fact he was talking to his doctor and he said his doctor told him that if he is able to handle the beer and be functional, it is probably more valuable as a stress reliver than not having it.

In his defense i have to say he is a great provider for his family and his drinking and smoking NEVER interferes with his family or professional life. He is the same guy before and after drinks.

Anyway, I know this is not a diagnosis, and I am not asking for medical advice. I am just wondering about the validity of serious exercise countering the effects of drinking and smoking.

Personally I think he has tarred lungs and a liver that looks like a catcher’s mitt, but what do you guys think?

I can see how the exercise must counteract the effects of weight gain from the drinking, but from smoking? I mean, all the exercise in the world isn’t going to clean up your lungs if you keep smoking. 6-8 beers a night is a lot, at least in my book. I think most people probably would consider 1-2 a “de-stressor” and 6-8 as being a party. Huh. It’s an odd theory he has here.

Keep in mind that some people smoke and drink their entire lives and don’t seem to suffer much from it. He might be one of the lucky few. I don’t think they understand how some people seem to avoid common health issues associated with these activitied, but we all know of someone who lived until 90 drinking bourbon and smoking cigars their entire life. Go figure.

For most of us, whether we are in great shape or not, the adverse health effects of drinking and smoking will catch up with us sooner or later. Being in peak physical shape may postpone some of the effects of alcohol and tobacco but I don’t think they provide you a “pass”, especially if you have a family history of problems.

Well, I’m hardly an endurance athelete, but I can definitely tell the difference between when I work out or when I’m not, when it comes to alcohol. There’s been times where, for whatever reasons, I can’t seem to find time to work out for weeks at a time, and small bits of alcohol effect me. I’ll have two glasses of wine, for example, and feel it the next day.

When I’m working out regularly, on the other hand, two glasses of wine don’t bother me in the least. Heck, there’s times that I will drink a whole bottle and not even feel it the next day.

If the guy’s not an alcoholic (and it doesn’t sound at all like he is, despite how much he drinks) then the only thing he has to worry about is the extra calories that 6-8 beers a day gives him. Sounds like he’s working it off, so no biggy. I believe beer is relatively mild on your system. I’d be more worried if he were having a lot of hard liquor every day.

I don’t smoke, and can’t understand how anyone who exercises can put up with smoking, so I’m not going to comment on that.

I always wonder about the lung capacity – and overall lung health – of guys like longtime pro basketball player Vlade Divac (IIRC, he is an unabashed smoker … and not 1/2 pack a day, either). True, the guy is not a triathlete … but still.

Nutritionist Robert Haas, in his early 80s book Eat to Win, seems to suggest that regular alcohol consumption could be worked into an overall healthy lifestyle, though it wasn’t the ideal situation. Haas’s main concern was much like Athena’s – the extra calories from simple carbohydrates. Increased risk of dehydration is also a concern if someone were to consume alcohol before an athletic event or before working out.

In his book, Haas relates anecdotes from his dealings with one of his clients, Australian tennis pro Fred Stolle. Stolle was game for most of Haas’s dietary recommendation, but flatly refused to give up (or even cut back much on) beer. Haas ended up working up a modified diet for Stolle.

Well, yes, but cigars are quite a bit “safer” than cigs- in fact, if smoked properly, there is little danger from Lung cancer (Cancer in your mouth is another thing altogether). And, there are several studies that have shown that a drink a day might well be good for you. So- if “Gramps” smoked a cigar once a day and had a shot of bourbon also once a day- he likely wasn’t really endangering his health at all.

No, the OP’s friend is wrong, and so is his Doc. Sure, keeping in shape will help with some of the effects of booze and cigs. But there will still be liver damage from the booze; and a danger of lung cancer from the cigs- and no amount of exercise will help with that last deadly item.

But- if he didn’t smoke and drink (that much, I mean- a couple of beers might even be good for you if you otherwise keep in shape)- he’d be in much better health.