The Booze/Sport Connection: Hash House Harriers, Validated by Science!

Hash House Harriers

Image via Wikipedia

Shock and horror for Puritans everywhere: a new study seems to show that people who drink more alcohol also get more exercise. From the layman’s gloss making the blog rounds at the moment:

Both moderate and heavy drinkers were also more likely to report vigorous exercise, like jogging, than either light drinkers or abstainers, the researchers report in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Compared with non-drinkers, adults in both groups were about 14 percent more likely to say they got some vigorous exercise in a typical week.

This news will come no surprise to members of the Hash House Harriers, the worldwide drinking/running/urban orienteering/obscene singalong club that features in the kick-off chapter of my forthcoming book, The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead, 2010, mark your calendars, etc.). For the uninitiated: Hashers gather in cities the world over to engage in non-competitive communal running adventures on improvised courses, which almost always include multiple stops for alcoholic refreshment. With thousands of chapters around the globe and a leaderless-resistance cellular structure that promotes unlimited membership growth, the HHH just might be the most successful amateur sports “organization” in the world. (Wrap your mind around that, Little League.) The first Hasher kennel was founded in Malayasia by a gonzo Anglo-Catalan sportsman named A.S. Gispert, and its constitution outlined a number of worthy goals:

To promote physical fitness among our members.

To get rid of weekend hangovers.

To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer.

Today, while the Hashers’ rather intricate social conventions—which include graphic obscene nicknames and frequent public nudity—might not be to everyone’s taste, this international confederacy of loudmouth hopheads maintains an inspiring dedication to merely-a-flesh-wound elan and a robust social sporting ethic that stands in contrast to the lonely world of 24-Hour Fitness. The Hashers understand that even though running while drinking may not accord with standard definitions of what’s “good” for you, it certainly beats pounding a treadmill while watching Fox News.

Maybe, instead of all the constant moaning about obesity and Bowling Alone-ish social bankruptcy, we should launch some initiatives that emphasize the all-important link between working out and hoisting a pint. We could call this healthier lifestyle The Sportsman’s Way.

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About zachdundas

Freelance journalist. Author of The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead Books). Thank you.
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