Almost 30% of people who regularly exercise do so because of guilt over binge drinking, research suggests.
A poll by the government's Know Your Limits campaign found that 28% of heavy drinkers - defined as the one-in-five who regularly drank more than double the recommended amount - exercised to "make up" for over indulging in alcohol.
The results suggest that as many as 3.8 million adults could be using a trip to the gym in this way.
Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, warned that while exercise burned calories and improved the health of the heart, it would not counteract the risk of liver disease, mouth cancer and stoke associated with heavy drinking.
He said: "While it is encouraging to see that people are recognising that heavy drinking is bad for their health, it is clear that the extent of the damage alcohol does to the body is not getting through to people."