The Health Benefits of Red Wine

Injuries and illnesses sometimes have a way of sidelining you right as you get into the swing of an exercise routine. Unfortunately, prolonged periods of sedentary behavior can lead to muscle wasting, bone loss and negative insulin responses that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

While these problems don't happen overnight, even short periods of sedentary behavior can set you back a step. Interestingly, researchers may have discovered a way to help prevent these problems from occurring with a compound found in red wine—resveratrol.

The Research and Results

The weightlessness experienced by astronauts is one of the most detrimental effects of space travel, and scientists have been searching for years to offset the problems weightlessness can cause. In the span of just a few weeks, astronauts can experience tremendous muscle wasting and bone loss because gravity does not force the body to work. These same results are seen in earth-bound individuals who regularly lead a sedentary lifestyle. The problem in space, though, is that the exercises that offset these problems on earth, like weight lifting and walking, don't work in a weightless environment.

With this premise in mind, researchers set out to create a pseudo-weightless environment for rats. Over the course of the study, two sets of rats lived in a "weightless" setting. While one group of rats was given a daily resveratrol supplement, the other group was not. At the end of the study, the rats who were not given resveratrol experienced muscle wasting and loss of strength in the legs, loss of bone mineral density and the development of insulin resistance. The group that received resveratrol supplementation did not experience any of these side effects of weightlessness.

The results made scientists sit up and take note—resveratrol could help astronauts and individuals who are temporarily sidelined from exercise prevent the negative effects of sedentary behavior.

The Takeaway

This is not your excuse to become a wine-o, but it is another reason to drink red wine responsibly and in moderation. No matter how fit you are, or how important your exercise routine is in your daily life, there will be times when you simply cannot maintain your regular workout. When this happens, there's certainly no harm in drinking a single glass of wine or taking a resveratrol supplement. Just don't start looking at red wine as your backup exercise routine—as great as it is, nothing can replace the effects of the real thing.

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Laura Williams writes about exercise and fitness for through her regular column "Exercise Science". She is currently completing her master's in Exercise Science.

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