Impulsivity moderates the association between physical activity and alcohol consumption
Leasure, J. Leigh
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Mounting evidence indicates that physical activity and alcohol consumption are positively associated, but potential moderators of this relationship remain unclear. Both physical activity and alcohol drinking are potentially reinforcing and may be more strongly associated among individuals who tend to be higher in reward seeking and related processes governed by the prefrontal cortex. Thus, behaviors linked to the prefrontal cortex, such as impulsivity, may influence the association between physical activity and alcohol intake. The present study therefore evaluated dimensions of impulsivity as moderators of the association between physical activity and alcohol consumption. We surveyed 198 undergraduate students and obtained self-reports of their drinking habits, physical activity, and dimensions of impulsivity. We found that moderate but not vigorous physical activity was positively associated with drinking. Linear regression analyses were used to evaluate dimensions of impulsivity as moderators of the association between physical activity (vigorous or moderate) and drinks per week. Results revealed a consistent pattern of interactions between the positive urgency and sensation seeking dimensions of impulsivity and moderate physical activity on number of drinks per week. For both interactions, there was a significant positive association between moderate physical activity and drinking at higher but not lower levels of impulsivity. We conclude that impulsivity moderates the positive association between physical activity and alcohol consumption. These results have significant implications for the development of prevention and treatment programs for alcohol use disorders.