Athletic Participation and Heavy Episodic Drinking among Canadian Undergraduates - Daphne Haggarty (2013)

While physical activity generally promotes health and well-being (WHO, 2010), competitive athletes at the varsity level have been shown to engage in heavy episodic drinking more frequently than non-athletes (defined as 4 or more drinks for women, or 5 drinks or more for men, on one occasion; Leichliter, Meilman, Presley, & Cashin, 1998). This study examined relations between heavy episodic drinking and athletic participation in the context of individual personality (i.e. sensation seeking, impulsivity, anxiety sensitivity, and hopelessness) and motivational variables (i.e. enhancement, coping-depression, coping-anxiety, conformity, and social). Athletic participation was measured according to level of competition (varsity or intramural), type of sport (team or individual), and general physical activity level. Cross- sectional data from 137 undergraduate student participants was analyzed. Hierarchical regression revealed that varsity and intramural status predicted heavy episodic drinking frequency even after controlling for personality and motives for alcohol use. While physical activity was not associated with heavy episodic drinking frequency, vigorous minutes per week significantly predicted average number of drinks typically consumed, and also explained a significant portion of the variance. For every 100 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, half an alcohol beverage was typically consumed. The results of this study may assist future strategies aimed to enhance student health, particularly for those student-athletes at risk of engaging in heavy episodic drinking.