Should You Exercise With a Hangover?

Exerciser tired after doing hard workout
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You've no doubt heard about any number of hangover cures. One popular belief is that you can sweat out a hangover with a hard workout. Although it may help assuage your guilt to lift some weights or swim some laps after overindulging, there's no hard evidence that working out after drinking can help make you feel human again any faster. You may simply be better off taking the day to rest and hydrate.

If you're considering working out while hungover, learn the risks and possible benefits before you hit the gym.

Risks of Working Out While Hungover

Exercising might actually make your hangover worse, particularly if you had a lot to drink and you haven't started rehydrating yet. It could also cause a different health issue.

Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose more water (via urination and perspiration) than it takes in. This is often what causes many of the symptoms of a hangover, including dry mouth, headaches, and nausea.

Exercising and sweating can actually dehydrate you further. If you can hydrate enough to feel better, you may be able to work out later in the day, but don't use exercise as a cure. If you're not hydrated, it may only make you feel worse.

Clumsiness

When you're hungover, you may be uncoordinated and more likely to injure yourself. You might feel clumsy, which could make you more vulnerable if you're going outside for a walk or run. All it takes is one stumble or dropped weight for a nasty injury.

Brain Fog

One of the side effects of drinking too much is brain fog or being unable to concentrate. If you're lifting weights or doing cardio on a machine, you're much more likely to hurt yourself or someone else simply because you're having trouble paying attention.

Discomfort and Stress

Drinking too much puts stress on the body, and that can make everything more difficult, especially exercise. If you have a hangover, your body needs time to heal, rehydrate, and recover. A hard workout before you've recovered can put even more stress on your body. In other words, working out when you already feel bad isn't going to make anything better.

Rewards of Exercising With a Hangover

If your hangover symptoms are relatively mild, however, a light workout might help with your recovery. Movement can help relieve stress, increase blood flow, release endorphins, and loosen tight muscles and joints. After all, exercise releases "feel-good" chemicals and hormones that boost energy and mood.

Keep in mind that a workout won’t help the body metabolize alcohol any faster. Any benefits from exercise are related to symptom relief, not “curing” the hangover.

Best Hangover Workouts 

Instead of an intense workout, stick with lighter workouts like gentle stretching, walking, yoga, or lifting lighter weights. You could also take a walk outside for some fresh air and get a boost of vitamin D from the sunshine.

It's a smart idea to avoid anything vigorous or intense such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or lifting heavier weights. Hot yoga or other activities known to cause a lot of sweating, such as biking outside, are not advised since your balance may be off and you're likely already dehydrated. A stationary bike at low to moderate intensity would be a safer alternative.

Whether or not you decide to exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water and eat nutrient-rich foods. Eggs, spinach, whole fruits, or simple soup recipes can help replace any nutrients that were depleted by alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I wait to work out after drinking?

It's recommended to wait until alcohol has cleared your system before you start exercising. A single drink may take 1–2 hours, while multiple drinks may take several hours or more. If there is still alcohol in your body while you're exercising, you are putting yourself at risk for worsening dehydration.

How long does a hangover last?

Depending on the severity of your hangover, it could last for up to 72 hours. However, in most cases, hangovers completely subside within 24 hours.

A Word From Verywell

If you do decide on a harder workout after a hangover, consider doing something later in the day when you've had more time to recover. But follow your body's cues: You may feel more breathless or fatigued after a night of drinking, which may affect your workout. Remember that rest is important.

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