Should You Exercise With a Hangover?

You've no doubt heard about any number of hangover "cures" and one popular one is that you can sweat out a hangover with a hard workout. The truth is that although it may help assuage your guilt to lift some weights or swim some laps after overindulging, there's no hard evidence that exercise can help make you feel human again faster.

So, should you try to hit the gym or just take an extra rest day? Here are some things to consider before you schedule a sweat session.

Exercising With a Hangover

Working out when you're hungover may sound like a good idea, but it may be the worst thing you can do, particularly if you had a lot to drink the night before and you haven't started rehydrating yet. Some of the biggest issues to consider: 

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose more water (via urination and perspiration) than it takes in. It's often this occurrence that causes many of the symptoms of a hangover, including dry mouth, headaches, and nausea. Exercising and sweating can actually cause you to dehydrate even more. 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 more uncoordinated than usual and more apt to injure yourself. Your body may not work very well, leaving you vulnerable, particularly if you're going outside for a walk or run. All it takes is one stumble and you could end up with a broken bone or, worse, falling in front of a car. If you do decide to do something, keep it simple...walking, stretching, or lifting light weights.
  • 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 just because you're not able to pay attention.
  • Feeling bad. Drinking too much puts stress on the body and that makes everything harder, especially exercise. Your body needs time to heal, rehydrate, and feel better, and a hard workout before you've done that can put even more stress on your body. Plus, working out when you already feel bad isn't going to make anything better.

Gentle Hangover Workouts

That doesn't mean you can't do anything. In fact, something gentle might be just what you need to feel a little better, once your stomach has settled down. After all, exercise releases "feel-good" chemicals and hormones that boost energy and mood —something you're probably in dire need of.

Instead of a hardcore workout, drink plenty of water, eat healthy (eggs, bananas, soup, and fruit can help replace nutrients depleted by alcohol and speed the removal of toxins from your body), and stick with lighter workouts like stretching or yoga.

A Word From Verywell

If you do decide on a harder workout, consider doing something later in the day when you're more fully recovered. But follow your body's cues: You may feel more breathless or fatigued after a night of drinking, which may affect your workout.

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