People who drink regularly seem to get more exercise, compared to their alcohol-free peers, says a new study. In fact, those who average more than a drink or two a day may be the most active among all.

Using data from a government health survey of US adults, the study team found that in general, the amount of time devoted to exercising tended to increase along with the number of alcoholic drinks they had each month.

Those considered heavy drinkers - at least 46 drinks in the past month for women, and 76 or more for men - exercised for an average of 20 minutes more per week, compared with their peers who abstained.

Moderate drinkers - women who had 15 to 45 drinks a month, and men who had 30 to 75 - got 10 extra minutes of exercise per week.

But the findings don't exactly mean that drinking is the key to an active lifestyle: "We certainly would not advocate that abstainers should start drinking or light drinkers should start drinking heavily as a way to increase their exercise," said lead researcher Dr. Michael T. French, of the University of Miami.

Though the fact that regular drinkers are generally more active than non-drinkers is "worth exploring further," he said.

A possible reason for the link could be that some regular drinkers exercise to burn calories gained from alcohol. Also, relatively heavy drinking could be part of a "sensation-seeking" lifestyle for some people, French and his team speculate. For example, some heavier drinkers could be the types who go for more adventurous outdoor activities.

French points out that excessive drinking and alcohol abuse have "serious psychological and physical consequences." Moderate drinking, however, has been linked to potential health benefits, including lessening the risk of heart disease.

While these attributes may be due to the drinkers' overall lifestyle, previous research has also shown alcohol to have some direct benefits, like increased levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

[Reuters via msnbc]