This section is from the book "The Human Body: An Elementary Text-Book Of Anatomy, Physiology, And Hygiene", by H. Newell Martin. Also available from Amazon: The Human Body.
It has been found by experiment that in most cases the drinking of quantities of wine or beer which do not intoxicate will, nevertheless, diminish the muscular effort which a healthy person can exert: he can no longer raise the weight which he could before. Such experiments have been carefully made on men under military regimen; they proved that alcohol does not increase the power of sustained muscular work, though it may for a brief time excite to unhealthy activity.
Another frequent result of " moderate" drinking is tremor, or shakiness of the hands. The hand is unsteady even when the arm is folded, and is seen to tremble if it be held out with the arm extended. This unsteadiness interferes with the performance of any action calling for muscular precision or manual dexterity. Another drink is apt to be resorted to "to steady the hand." Entire abstinence from alcohol, the essential cause of the unsteadiness, is the only real remedy. The extra glass may for a short time steady the muscles, but, repeated, leads to the acquirement of serious diseases.
What is chiefly needed in the muscles of arms and legs respectively? Point out conditions under which muscular exercise loses much of its value. Why are athletic games especially useful ?
Total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco is required from all competitors while in training for athletic games and races. A man who, after election as a member of his college crew, should be found secretly drinking beer or smoking, would be hissed out of college. So, in later years, in the race for success in life, the abstainer has the advantage.
A serious structural change in the body produced by alcohol is fatty degeneration. The oily matter of the body exists in two forms: first, as adipose or fatty tissue collected under the skin, and in less amount elsewhere, as on the surface of the heart and around the kidneys; second, as minute fat-drOplets in the interior of various cells and fibres. Some forms of alcoholic drinks tend to increase the adipose tissue, and may lead to undue accumulation of it about the heart, which is a muscle, impeding the action of that organ. A more important and frequent result is an increase of fat-droplets in the cells and the muscular fibres, the oily matter replacing the natural working substance.
What is the effect of alcoholic drinks on muscular power? On muscular precision? How does alcohol lead to deterioration?