Other Subject Area

Exercise Behavior, Substance Use


International Journal of Exercise Science 17(3): 623-632, 2024. Alcohol has previously shown a paradoxical positive relationship with exercise behaviors. However, the relationship has not been explored according to type of exercise (aerobic vs. anaerobic), nor has the research considered other contextual variables that commonly co-occur with alcohol use, such as cannabis and mood. This study sought to expand upon previous research to understand how the alcohol-exercise relationship may vary based on exercise type. Additionally, this study included cannabis use and mood as moderators of the alcohol-exercise association. Cross-sectional survey data was collected from college students (N = 335). Negative binomial regression was used to test associations between exercise and alcohol consumption, cannabis use, positive affect (PA), negative affect (NA), and moderating effects of these factors on the alcohol-exercise relationship. Effect sizes are reported from an Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR). Sex assigned at birth (male = 1, female = 0; IRR = 1.34, p = .017), PA (IRR = 1.57, p = .001), and alcohol consumption (IRR = 1.94, p = .037) exhibited positive relationships with exercise. Significant main effects were not observed for negative affect (IRR = 1.17, p = .230), or cannabis use (IRR = 1.00, p = .988). There was a significant interaction between positive affect and alcohol consumption (IRR = 0.87, p = .044) predicting exercise minutes. Alcohol was positively associated with exercise for those with low positive affect (n = 42, b = 12.61, p = .096) and this effect was attenuated as levels of positive affect increased (mean positive affect: n = 232, b = 0.55, p = .926; high positive affect: n = 61, b = -15.86, p = .146). These findings suggest that low positive affect may contribute to the positive link between alcohol use and exercise (especially aerobic exercise) in young people.