You’ve got a killer hangover and you’re wondering if a workout will make you feel human again. We’re sorry to tell you, probably not. Here’s why hitting the gym after a boozy night is a bad idea…
Let’s clear one thing up: the ‘sweat-it-out’ theory doesn’t actually work and is probably going to make you feel worse. Technically, according to Dr Frankie Jackson-Spence, you can sweat out a tiny bit of alcohol from your system but it’s not recommended because exercise will exacerbate dehydration.
“The liver metabolises most of your alcohol (about 95%). It uses an enzyme called Acetaldehyde dehydrogenase to break down alcohol into acetaldehyde and then a metabolite called Acetate. You get a hangover when you drink more alcohol than your liver can metabolise are once, meaning the toxic metabolites such as acetaldehyde build up in your bloodstream and make you feel ‘hungover’ causing symptoms such as headache, nausea and flushing,” she explains.
“The remaining 5% of alcohol is eliminated through other body secretions such as sweat, urine, faeces, saliva and breath. When you exercise, the blood vessels in your skin dilate and your sweat glands are stimulated to produce more sweat to cool you down. Technically exercising makes you sweat more, and therefore does mean some alcohol will be lost in sweat. However, working out to ‘sweat off a hangover’ is not really advisable because alcohol causes dehydration and it is likely exercise will worsen your dehydrated state – making that throbbing headache worse!”
You could get injured
Furthermore, it can be dangerous to workout with a hangover, especially with heavy weights and machines, because alcohol interferes with your balance and motor coordination. “Short term, alcohol can affect the brain and cause symptoms such as disorientation, reduced inhibitions, incoordination and reduced memories,” says Dr Jackson-Spence. “This is why people often become more confident when they’ve had a wine, can’t walk in a straight line and often have some amnesia and can’t remember what they got up to the night before! Alcohol also affects your sleep quality. Therefore training when you are still intoxicated is likely to lead to poor form and risk of injury.”
It’s a waste of time
Let’s be honest, your workout is going to suck anyway if you’re nursing a severe hangover. Sure, it may ease the guilt for overindulging the night before but if you’re lacking in energy and feeling nauseous, among other symptoms, you’re better off staying at home. “If you’re feeling really awful don’t go to the gym, have a rest day,” says Ianthe Mellors, who is a personal trainer and fitness instructor. “If you’re like me and feel the need to move, go on a walk to get your body moving and lift some of that hangover fog – also chug as much water as possible because water is life!”
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