A few weeks back, a post cropped up on the web, citing a “new” study that claims “a glass of red wine may be equivalent to an hour at the gym.” In this age of quack science and online hoaxes, Don’t believe everything you read should be everyone’s mantra, but if your first emotion after reading those words was elation, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Sure, a good sweaty workout is great and all, but being able to trade in the dumbbells for a nice glass of red and still get similar results? Umm… duh.
But clicking on the link to the study reveals that it was published in 2012. Not that 2012 was sooo long ago, but a lot can change in two years. Come on, look what happened to Miley Cyrus. But, like a nice bottle of vino that’s supposed to get better with age, does this study’s information withstand the test of time? Probably not.
The study, published by the University of Alberta, claims that the “natural compound (Resveratrol) found in some fruits, nuts and red wine may enhance exercise training and performance.”
So we’ve all heard that red wine has properties good for the heart, but “may” is the opportune word here, even though the brain only wants to latch onto “red wine,” “enhance,” and “exercise.” Why not just forget the “may?” Because sometimes too good to be true really does mean to good to be true. The internet is rife with several other articles, all citing the same study that this article did here, and this pretty little post from The Latin Times goes so far as to say that “drinking red wine is better for you than going to the gym.” How’s that for some editorial spin?
And thus begins the cycle. This study, and dozen others like it, seem to ignite a sneaky game of telephone throughout news outlets, websites, and social media feeds twisting the amazing finding du jour in whatever way they see fit. Typically resulting in the original message of the study being lost, omitting the important words like “may” or “suggests,” qualifiers that in no way imply absolutes. Are these studies, combined with our modern-day desire for shortcuts, making us naïve victims, clinging to the discovery of a scientific miracle — in this case, one that will allow us to skip working out altogether and still reap the benefits?
Whether it’s the latest red wine findings, or a new slant on dark chocolate’s magical antioxidants also proven to be good for your heart, all of this speculation is enough to make the average person dizzy. Or at least a little confused. Sure dark chocolate may be good for you, but it’s like a one-inch by one-inch square that’s good for you. Eating the entire bar when you crack it open does a lot more damage than good, apparently. Huh. Who woulda thunk it?
But for every new study revealing validation to consume more , there’s probably someone out there that took the study literally, over-indulged, and 10 days later gave themselves a head start on the road to diabetes or got wasted and decided to go to the gym and blacked out on a treadmill. An emergency room visit makes for a great experience in exercise enhancement, right? So how are we supposed to know which studies to take with a grain of salt and which to get inked on our foreheads? Well, asking someone with some professional knowledge is a good place to start.
California-based Sheldon S. Zinberg, M.D., chairman and President of Nifty after Fifty, takes the air out of this balloon: “resveratrol is certainly no substitute for exercise and drinking alcoholic beverages (red, blue or any other color) will not improve the effects of exercise.” The good doctor goes on to say that “resveratrol may enhance exercise performance in humans,” and here’s the important part not being mentioned, “but the jury is still out and more research needs be done to document this. Presently, it shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for exercise but as a possible enhancement that hopefully will be confirmed by the additional research.”
Even a knowledgeable doctor is compelled to use hopeful — or equivocal — words, depending upon how you interpret.
Well. There goes that. Guess cancelling your gym membership and buying a $500 gift card to BevMo! is out of the question. Common sense (and pretty much every medical professional on the planet) says the best way to stay healthy is to do most everything in moderation, but you can still dream. Can the day when going to the gym will be as easy as taking a pill or fiddling with an app get here already. Where’s the study proving French fries promote something beneficial like glowing skin or high morale?
Whelp. Until that blessed day arrives, we wait, with eager hopes for the one study finding the quick fix or a proven, unequivocal free pass to drink more red wine.
Image Credit: Courtney Brown/Quit WINEing!