Should you work out when you have a hangover? The answer is yes! However, a day when you’re hungover is not like any other day, and as such, your workout should be treated a little bit differently. To help you stay on track with your fitness goals, here are five hangover tips for how to make the most of your workout when you’re afflicted with a hangover.
1. Don’t skip your workout. When you wake up with a raging hangover, chances are that working out is the last thing you feel like doing. Staying in bed and eating a big greasy fry-up probably sounds much more appetizing. But believe it or not, working out is one of the best things you can do to combat that hangover.
For one thing, exercise releases endorphins–you know, those little feel-good hormones that can boost your mood and get you out of cranky hangover territory. Exercise will also get your blood flowing and help you sweat out toxins, which will hasten your recovery time. Basically, exercising is a natural way to cure a hangover. It’s not going to erase your hangover totally, but it’s a much better method than the “hair of the dog” approach!
2. Have a healthy snack. When you wake up hungover, chances are you’re not feeling so hot, and your stomach might be gurgling. It’s not a pleasant sensation. You might be tempted to eat nothing, or to eat something really greasy. Neither is a good approach.
Eating nothing will likely just increase the sensation of nausea as you work out, and may leave you feeling dizzy or woozy. On the other hand, while it may be tempting to indulge in a big bacon egg and cheese sandwich, greasy foods will likely only exacerbate the sensation of a sour stomach. In layman’s terms, that sandwich will feel like a lead stone in your belly as you start to work out!
For the best results, eat a light snack in advance of working out. Give a few minutes for it to settle in your stomach before hitting your routine. Eggs are a good choice because they have amino acids such as cysteine, which can promote liver function and help reduce headaches. Bananas or other foods high in potassium may also be a good choice, because potassium is typically depleted when drinking. Nothing too heavy, and nothing too big!
3. Take it easy. Drinking, especially to excess, massively reduces motor function and coordination. You’re still dealing with the residual effects of this the morning after. Therefore, the day you have a hangover is probably not the day to start testing your endurance limits. It’s also not the time to try a complex new routine. Rather than the most massive workout of your life or running a marathon, focus on a gentler workout that will get you moving.
Another compelling reason to take it slow? You may be experiencing something of a “healing crisis”. The idea behind that is that while you may be doing positive things for your body, you may feel worse before you feel better. Basically, while getting your blood flowing is ultimately good for recovering for a hangover, it can increase the sensation of muscle aches and pain in the short term. Sweating is great for releasing the toxins, but it may not feel great (or smell great, honestly) while you’re working out.
Finally, as part of the “take it easy” approach, be sure to adequately stretch before and after working out. This is particularly important when you’re nursing a hangover, as muscles can be quite stiff.
4. Hydrate. It’s extremely important to replenish your body with plenty of liquid when you’re nursing a hangover. This is true as a general blanket statement, but particularly when you’re working out. Here are some reasons why:
- Alcohol is a toxin. A fun one, for sure, but a toxin, nonetheless. To be sure that you’re flushing your body of this toxin, you need to hydrate yourself continuously. Yes, it might make you sweat or need to use the bathroom more, but this is why you’re taking your workout slow today.
- You need to rehydrate. Alcohol can have a dehydrating effect on the body. This is because it prevents the brain from releasing a hormone that helps the kidney re-absorb water. This is why alcohol makes you urinate so much, yet doesn’t actually hydrate your body. Water or liquids containing electrolytes are your best bet for helping your body rehydrate.
- Reduce bloating. Among the least pleasant effects of a hangover? That awful, uncomfortable bloated feeling you have in the morning. Drinking plenty of water will help you reduce the water weight so that you can start feeling like yourself again.
5. Remember how this feels for next time. I’m not going to judge or tell you what to do. Obviously everyone needs to let loose every now and again. However, when you do have to deal with a hangover, take a moment to really think about how it feels and whether or not it’s worth it. Every now and again, everyone likes to indulge a little bit. But remember how this feels right now, and think about it next time you go out. Do you really want to deal with these consequences? The prospect might just help you know when to say when next time.
Everyone has a few too many from time to time. But with these easy hangover tips, you’ll be better able to combat your hangover and stay true to your fitness goals.
What’s your favorite tip for training with a hangover?