Think of all the reasons we run for beer (and sometimes run with beer). There’s the obvious - after a hard run, it tastes like the liquid equivalent of a high-five - and the less proven - it functions as a performance enhancing drug for previously untested dance moves. But those aren’t the only justifications for ending your group run at the nearest craft brewery. Here’s our list of completely defensible reasons to (responsibly) enjoy this treat.
1/ Beer can help reduce your risk of heart disease
According to Harvard University, more than 100 studies show an inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of heart attack or death from cardiovascular disease. Across all the studies, a 25- to 40-percent reduction in risk has been found.
2/ Beer can lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
In a meta-analysis of 20 studies on moderate alcohol consumption and Type 2 Diabetes risk, the American Diabetes Association found “that moderate alcohol consumption is protective for type 2 diabetes in men and women.” The study noted that the effects were most protective when men consumed closer to 22 grams per day of alcohol and women consumed 24 grams per day. It’s important to note that a standard 12-ounce beer contains about 14 grams of alcohol—so drink responsibly if you want these health benefits.
3/ Beer can increase your bone density
Studies have found that beers—particularly darker, hoppier ales—have a high amount of silicon, which contributes to bone and connective-tissue health. The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture reports that this suggests a moderate intake helps fight osteoporosis.
4/ Beer can prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
Drinking in moderation can actually help you stay at the top of your mental game. Researchers at Lanzhou University recently found that a compound found in beer hops, xanthohumol, can guard against oxidative stress and might fight the onset of dementia or cognitive decline.
5/ Beer can reduce your cholesterol
Good news: A study by the American Heart Association found that moderate beer consumption can increase HDL, or healthy cholesterol, even more markedly for women. The American Heart Association recommends you don’t get carried away, though: no more than one drink per day for women and one to two for men.
6/ Beer can prevent kidney stones
A toast to never finding out how miserable it feels to pass a kidney stone! Beer intake has been shown to have an inverse relationship with this painful ailment, with each bottle consumed per day estimated to reduce risk by 40 percent.
7/ Beer might be able to fight cancer
Researchers in Germany discovered that the xanthohumol in beer hops (pictured above)—the same stuff that helps prevent dementia— can also block excessive testosterone and estrogen and thus reduce the chance of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. They’re further studying xanthohumol for potential use as a cancer-fighting drug, but in the meantime you can get your dose from a nice IPA.
8/ Beer is a great post-run reward!
In the last few miles of a hard run, it’s nice to have a recovery beer to fantasize about for added motivation. You can end your run at the local brewery—some breweries even sponsor races with impressive prizes—to enjoy the social lubrication and relaxation benefits beer can offer—or you can head straight home and indulge in one of life’s supreme pleasures, the shower beer. Either way, nothing will taste better when you’re tired and sweaty.
Photography by Getty Images
A version of this article first appeared on Bicycling.