Peter Muswangali is a ‘fitness freak’. Every day after work, he will drive straight to a gym on Mityana Road where he will spend two hours on the treadmill or lifting weights.
He will then walk over to his favourite bar to partake of some alcohol and pork before heading home. This was his routine for about three years before the lockdown brought a halt to it.
Today, he carries out moderate exercises such as walking, cycling and jogging before drinking his favourite alcoholic brand.
Muswangali is not alone. There are several fitness conscious people who leave the gym or fitness training facilities and head straight to a bar. Others will indulge in alcohol at the gym during workouts.
“This routine seems to work for me,” Muswangali, a senior accountant at one of the firms in Kampala says, disregarding the question about the benefits - or not- of taking alcohol after working out.
According to Dr. Ataro Stephen Ayella, the vice president, Uganda Medical Association, effects of alcohol on the body depend on the type of drink taken.
These are classified as malted brews such as beers and others such as brandy, whiskey, vodka, wine, rum, cognac and gin.
“A study by Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s medical school and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2016 revealed that exercising as recommended ‘cancels out’ the higher risk of cancer death brought about by drinking. Similarly, physical activity lessens any greater risk of death resulting from any cause due to alcohol,” he says.
Following an exercise routine, Dr Ataro says there is need for the body to recover, especially after fatiguing or strenuous exercises. However, taking alcohol will slow recovery.
“Whenever we take sports teams for games, we ensure they do not drink alcohol during the training and competition period lest they fail to perform. Taking alcohol prior to games, especially for very physical games can lead to serious injuries and the common ones are brain concussions as well as others resulting from psychomotor imbalances,” Dr Ataro, who is also a primary care sports doctor and member, Canadian Academy of Sports and Exercises Medicine, says.
Dr Ataro recalls a scenario in 2002 during a sports event where one athlete collapsed and nearly died after collision with a colleague in a very physical game because he was dehydrated having drunk heavily the previous night.
But the athletes can indulge after games.
However, drinking alcohol after a workout might prevent efficient healing of the muscles by decreasing the secretion of the hormone. As a result, one will feel sore longer.
More of slump
Isaac Kamara, a fitness trainer says athletes who have suffered soft injuries and take alcohol will not heal faster because their blood vessels open up which promotes swelling at the injury point.
Alcohol is also a depressant, meaning it slows you down; your reaction time, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity.
“The person will not benefit from the workout because while exercises sharpen the mind, alcohol depresses the mood which is the reverse of what you are meant to get from working out. In essence, if you wanted to lower stress levels, it will not be achieved optimally since the full effects of alcohol will not manifest immediately, and will cause one to get into a slump,” Kamara shares.
Dr Ataro adds that binge drinking also plays a role in decreasing one’s gains from the gym as it negates the processes, especially for building up muscles. Some drinks such as Ajono have very high calories content hence will lead to weight gain and perhaps causing pot bellies.
“The malted drinks also over work the kidneys and can cause hypertension ,” Dr Ataro says. “We usually see people who drink beers frequent the toilet because alcohol dehydrates the body, yet exercises also do the same owing to excessive sweating.”
Kamara adds that dehydration brought about by alcohol could also lead to tissue and cellular damage, especially after taking the dry gins and whisky. Additionally, alcohol reduces one’s level of consciousness, especially when drunkenness sets in.
“This leads to increased secretions that could bloke the airways, choke and even precipitate airway obstruction diseases such as asthma,” Kamara says.
Medically, it is recommended that alcohol is taken in moderate quantities However, alcoholics will not adhere to these.
Summarily, the impact of alcohol depends on the physical health of a person; one with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and liver disease is prone to more complications due to alcohol following exercises.
“Exercises increase blood volume and lead to dilatation of blood vessels, a similar effect seen with alcohol and for a diseased organ, some of these processes lead to a worse state,” Dr Ataro says.
RED WINE AFFAIR
Red wine particularly is recommended for better functioning of the heart, whether alcoholic or not it serves similar function. The effects are improved digestion, reduced gas in the stomach and bloating, constipation management, body relaxation and enhanced sleep, heart function protection and reduced risk of developing Coronary Heart Disease by improving blood flow and dissolving fats (Cardiolipins) that could block the blood vessels of the heart.