Basic exercise may counteract the health problems brought about by drinking alcohol, a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests. The researchers recommend at least two and a half hours weekly of doing basic exercise such as walking and gardening.

Exercising reduces the negative consequences of alcohol even if it is consumed at a higher amount than what is recommended. Moreover, the risk of dying from cancer associated with drinking is nearly diminished among those who exercise regularly.

Researchers from the University of Sydney, University College London and the University of Montreal analyzed data of 36,370 adults aged 40 and older from the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey, an annual and national representative health survey of individuals that includes their drinking and physical activity. This study is the first to investigate if there is a connection between the health benefits of exercise to the risk of death associated with consuming alcohol.

The research team found that out of all the subjects, 4,845 individuals drank more than the recommended weekly alcohol, which is about 2.4 standard drinks each day for men and 1.6 drinks per day for women. Around 27.5 percent of the people said they do not engage in physical activity or did not get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week. Meanwhile, 39 percent engaged in at least minimum amount of exercise and 23 percent engaged in even more physical activity.

The research team found that the health risk associated with alcohol consumption, which includes 36 percent increased risk of death from cancer and 13 percent risk of death from any cause, was offset among the participants who engage in the recommended amount of exercise per week, which also includes brisk walking.

While the findings show how exercise benefits even those who engage in unhealthy lifestyle practices, the researchers assert that these do not mean that exercise is a license to drink more alcohol.