It’s safe to say that at this time of year the majority of us are going to be experiencing more than our fair share of hangovers.
But while everyone seems to have their own personalised, ‘guaranteed hangover cure’, a popular one is that you can sweat out the remnants of the night before by hitting the gym.
However, although getting off the sofa and getting your blood pumping may help banish the guilt of the previous evening, surprisingly there’s no hard evidence to suggest that heavy exercise will get rid of that hangover.
With that in mind, is it worth hitting the gym at all, or would it be more beneficial to just take an extra rest day?
Well, working out when you're hungover may sound like the perfect antidote, but in fact it could well be the worst thing you can do - especially if you had a lot to drink and haven't started rehydrating yet.
Here are some things you should definitely consider:
This is so important. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to lose more water (via urination and perspiration) than it takes in, and more often than not it’s this that causes the classic symptoms of a hangover.
Dry mouth, headaches, nausea and that desperate thirst are all down to the diuretic effects of alcohol, so exercising and sweating on top of that can actually cause you to dehydrate even more.
If you do manage to hydrate enough you can probably get a workout in later later in the day - but don't use exercise as a cure.! If you're not well hydrated, it’ll probably just make you feel a whole lot worse…
A common symptom of a hangover is clumsiness. This can be down to a number of thing including the aforementioned dehydration or ether fact that excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact your sleep.
So, if your body isn’t quite working properly the chance of you having some sort of mishap are greatly increased. If your chosen exercise involves running or lifting weights all it takes is one stumble and you could end up with a broken bone.
If you do decide to do something, it’s best to keep it gentle. Think walking, stretching or yoga.
Overindulging with alcohol puts stress on your body (it is essentially a poison after all!).
The effect of this is that everything seems much harder - especially exercise.
It’s much more beneficial to give your body time to heal and rehydrate, and a strenuous workout too early in the recovery process is just likely to put even more stress on your body.
Gentle Hangover Workouts
But all of this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything at all. In fact, a bit of gentle exercise could be just what the doctor ordered.
A slow, measured workout will stimulate the release of all those ‘feel-good’ chemicals and hormones and start to boost both your energy levels and your mood, which can only be a good thing.
So instead of hammering it in the gym first thing in the morning, try drinking plenty of water, eating something healthy to start replacing those vitamins and minerals that have been depleted in your body and indulge in a light workout.
You’ll feel a whole lot better for it!