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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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