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Red wine drinkers rejoice. French – at least, I think they’re French – scientists have some news that will put a huge smile on your face. Especially if you’re an exercise-shy wine lover.

According to the researchers, whose study has just been published online in the FASEB Journal (or The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, if you want the full title), an ingredient in red wine may prevent the damage that a sedentary lifestyle does to your body. Think decrease in muscle mass and strength, loss of bone strength and the onset of insulin resistance (altogether not a good package for your health). The ingredient, you may have already guessed, is resveratrol, which has already been linked to a number of health benefits from reducing tumours to helping win the war against obesity.

The researchers did tests on lab rats that were subjected to simulated weightlessness, similar to that experienced by astronauts in space. The control group developed the type of symptoms you’d expect (loss of muscle mass, bone density and development of  insulin resisrance etc). But those that were fed resveratrol didn’t suffer any symptoms.

In a press release, FASEB Journal editor-in-chief Gerald Weissman comments: “There are overwhelming data showing that the human body needs physical activity, but for some of us, getting that activity isn’t easy. A low gravity environment makes it nearly impossible for astronauts. For the earthbound, barriers to physical activity are equally challenging, whether they be disease, injury, or a desk job. Resveratrol may not be a substitute for exercise, but it could slow deterioration until someone can get moving again.

“If resveratrol supplements are not your cup of tea then there’s good news. You can find it naturally in red wine, making it the toast of the Milky Way.”

Whoah, I can almost hear the stampede of activityphobes rushing to their nearest Wine Rack to stock up on as many bottles of Cabernet as their puny, muscle-wasted arms can carry.

There again, it’s not often we get such good news where health is concerned, so I’m not going to burst your bubble by babbling on about the dangers of drink. So for once, pour yourself a large one, forget the guilt and enjoy. Cheers.