Alcohol Inhibits Athletic Performance

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This was a column written by Sam Marshik and published in the Kanabec County Times on March 17, 2014. Click  to view the original column.

I just recently became a resident of Mora and I have never felt more welcomed into a community. Everyone in Mora has been so helpful in the transition and there is such a sense of community here.

I am currently a student at St. Cloud State University, in the Community Health Program. As an intern with the Kanabec County Public Health Department, I am given so many opportunities to make an impact on a day-to-day basis.

After exploring different areas during my time spent at St. Cloud State and here at Kanabec County Public Health, I was asked to research alcohol use and abuse and its effects on athletic performance. In that research, I have found my passion for wellness. I enjoy watching all kinds of sports. My fiancé, Jonathan Hageman is a three-season coach at Mora High School.

Wellness has a rather large impact on high school athletes. The students are still growing and developing and it is important for them to understand healthy living. Here are some of my findings on the effects of alcohol on athletic performance.

Alcohol dehydrates a body

If an athlete wants to perform at their best, they need to be well hydrated to assure optimal muscle recovery. When an athlete is dehydrated, they are at greater risk for muscle injuries and decreased muscle growth.

Alcohol decreases muscle recovery by negatively affecting sleep patterns

When an athlete is sleep deprived, their body does not produce the human growth hormone, also called HGH. This hormone plays a crucial role in building new muscle and muscle repair. Consuming alcohol can decrease the release of HGH by up to 70 percent, as well as decreasing testosterone levels.

Alcohol depletes energy levels

Consuming alcohol can lead to a disruption in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides the fuel that is required for muscle contraction, and lowering ATP amounts leads to a loss of energy and endurance.

Alcohol leads to decreases in athletic performances

Many high school athletes do not understand the repercussions drinking has on their ability to do well in their chosen sport. It has been proven by the National Institutes of Health that if you consume four or more drinks, it can take up to three days for your body to fully recover. Even if you are only consuming alcohol on the weekends, it can still have a negative impact on your athletic performance during the week.

Alcohol inhibits the mind’s ability to create new memories

Alcohol negatively affects the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that is key in forming new memories. Most long-term memories are created while sleeping and since alcohol inhibits sleep it can disrupt memory creation.

Alcohol is not a viable source of nutrition

Alcohol has a lot of calories. Usually calories would be used by the body as an energy source; however, calories from alcohol cannot be transformed into glycogen, a form of carbohydrates that your body uses as energy. Instead the body converts alcohol to a fatty acid and is stored in the body as fat.

This is my last semester before I graduate and am pushed out into the real world. Community Health seemed like the perfect fit for me. I want to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives, and assist them in living a healthier lifestyle. I am excited to become a part of it all, and hope that I can assist the Public Health Department in making Mora an even better place to live.

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