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Science Has It: Drinking Red Wine Enhances Exercise Performance

Science Has It: Drinking Red Wine Enhances Exercise Performance

Can it really be true? You mean, you can just have a glass of red wine and avoid those sweat drenching sessions at the gym? Well, not exactly, but recent studies have shown that red wine does contain one ingredient which has revealed certain health benefits in recent tests. Let us have a look at what these experiments show and look at the pros and cons of that seductive glass of red wine.

“I drink red wine on ice to water it down.” -Diane Keaton

First, the good news

We need antioxidants because they can neutralize the free radicals in the body, which damage healthy cells. Fruit and vegetables have generous supplies. But red wine also has quite a few. These are called polyphenols, one of which is resveratrol. This latter one has attracted scientists’ attention. Why?

A University of Alberta study showed that high doses of resveratrol produced similar benefits for the heart and muscular strength as physical exercise.

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Now imagine older and disabled people who just cannot get the benefits of physical exercise. If they get enough resveratrol through consuming red wine, nuts, raspberries and mulberries, then that would be a great boost for their health. Researchers say that it might even be possible to take a supplement containing the correct dosage of resveratrol but more studies need to be done.

If you are a teetotaller and want to get the same benefits for your heart, muscles and joints, then try red grape juice instead.

Yes, alcohol in small quantities can help to keep cholesterol levels right, prevent blood clots and preserve arteries.

“Beer is made by men, wine by God.” -Martin Luther

Now, the bad news

Well, not bad news exactly but just a few notes to put all this research into perspective so that you do not abandon the gym for your local wine bar.

Most of the research on resveratrol has been done on animals and in test tubes, and they are not yet able to judge the effects on humans in the long term.

The effects on older people are not yet proved. Dr. Richard Semba, from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, carried out research on 800 senior citizens in the Chianti region in Italy, where red wine is plentiful. But after 11 years, he came to the conclusion that those with higher levels of resveratrol were not protected in any significant way from dying of cancer or heart disease. Those with lower levels had better heart health, he found.

What’s the take home message?

Yes, a glass of red wine may benefit your health. But alcohol consumption in great quantities can lead to all sorts of problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and obesity. It can become an addiction (as if you did not know!) and aggravate health problems. Alcohol is basically a neurotoxin which can poison brain cells and damage your delicate hormonal balance.

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According to WHO, heavy drinking kills one person every 10 seconds. If you do the math, that is 3,153,600 deaths a year.

One solution in avoiding all that alcohol is to get the resveratrol through the use of supplements. But these cannot really replace all the benefits of a good workout. In fact, you need some of the bad free radicals released by exercise to help your body to recover and help you improve your performance. After all, exercise will make your heart stronger and that puts less pressure on the arteries, which helps to lower blood pressure.

The Harvard Medical School recommends a glass of red wine, rather than taking all those resveratrol supplements. This is the best way to enhance your exercise regime and it can also have anti-aging properties.

Another great benefit of having a glass of red wine after your workout is that it can help digestion and add to the good bacteria in your intestines. In addition, you will be able to considerably reduce your risk of getting cancer and it will help your mind to stay alert.

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That glass of red wine can also help to soothe those sore muscles and make you less sensitive to pain. As in all things, moderation is the key.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” -Oscar Wilde

Let us know in the comments whether a glass of red wine has really helped your exercise regime.

Featured photo credit: Wine static/Angelo Amboldi via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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