Should I Exercise with a Hangover?

Jul 16, 2015 | fitness, Motivation

Exercise hangoverSo you’ve had a boozy night, you’re feeling like crap and maybe a tad guilty. Is this a good opportunity to train your sins away? The answer is not clear cut, so check out my do’s and don’ts along with my hangover workout before you set off to the gym.

Ok, so what is a hangover?

A hangover is a direct result of heavy drinking, and for some that may be after just one! A hangover can feel different to everyone but the general symptoms are severe headaches, nausea, feeling tired and confused, dehydrated, having the ‘shakes’ and sometimes a loss of memory.

On the inside, our liver is trying to metabolise the alcohol and by doing this is creating a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde which is apparently 30 x more toxic than alcohol. If we drink too much however the liver can’t keep up which means this toxin builds up and results in those nasty symptoms.

Effects on the body

Here are just a few things alcohol does to your body:

  • Dehydrates: remember the amount of times you had to get up and pee? Well those toilet trips leading to dehydration make you thirsty and can leave you feeling lightheaded. And, contrary to popular belief scientists have found that dehydration is not solely responsible for a hangover, but it will contribute to that pounding headache!
  • Nausea or vomiting: that’s your stomach trying to rid some of the extra acid that it has produced.
  • Headaches: ouch! These hurt. That’s the alcohol swelling your blood vessels!
  • Loss of memory: so sometimes you may think this is a good thing? Think again! Alcohol can trigger inflammation of your immune system causing you to forget or lose interest of even getting out of bed.
  • Gets worse as we age: well the jury is still out on this one and just whether the younger you are the quicker you bounce back.

How do I recover from a hangover?

Sorry, but there is no evidence that supports downing a bacon and egg roll (aka grease) and a coke will rid you of that hangover, albeit some people swearing by it. Here are some ‘practical’ recommendations for speeding up recovery from that horrid hangover.

Fluid: Juice, Water, Gatorade. Coffee? Well some people say coffee works but others say it brings back that pounding headache. Gatorade or sports drinks aren’t proven to be any more effective than water and juice is great for the vitamins but you are probably best to save your money and stick to the water. Ps ‘Hair of the dog’ may numb the pain…but give it time and you will pay!

Go to bed and sleep: After a night on the drink you may feel comatose but in fact you haven’t had a very good sleep at all. If you have the ability you should head back to sleep and well ‘sleep’ it off. Like when we are sick, rest will restore the body.

Medication Alka-Seltzer (containing sodium bicarbonate) may help your tummy. If you reach for the medicine cabinet make sure its Nonsteriodial Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Alcohol and anything else is not great for the liver.

Food: “Eat light”, says John Brick, PhD, an alcohol research scientist and author of The Doctor’s Hangover Handbook. “No specific foods are recommended, although honey sandwiches are helpful to some people,” Brick says. Remember when you were sick and your mum gave you bland toast or crackers? Give that a go for your flipping stomach, or if you can manage it eggs have an amino acid called ‘cysteine’ which will help break down those toxins.

So, here it is – should you exercise to rid the hangover?

The short answer is – yes, but keep it easy. Heading out for an intense session is not one of your brightest ideas. You are dehydrated and ‘sweating’ it out will only dehydrate you further, placing unnecessary stress on the body. Nutritionally you most likely chowed down on something greasy, which is not great for that workout either. I mentioned earlier a symptom might be confusion or the shakes – not great when you need coordination or stability for a workout.

However, an ‘easy’ workout may help you feel better through reducing inflammation and possibly clearing that fuzzy mind. Your workout should be gentle, low intensity and make sure you listen to your body. Simple stretches, yoga or swimming may just do the trick. You could also try this simple hangover workout:

Hangover Workout

– 10 minute walk outside for warm up (or longer!) – fresh air and gets the blood flowing

3 rounds of

– 10 x Body-weight squat

– 20 x alternating supported lunges (10 each side)

– 10 x push ups

– 10 x tricep dips

– 60-90sec rest

Remember! You must have water with you and ensure you eat a nutritious meal once you are done. Oh and kudos to you getting out there and doing something healthy!!




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