Hi Jess, I often wonder whether working out while hungover helps, or if it actually ends up doing more harm than good. What are your thoughts on this?
Sure, the idea of working out while hungover may seem as unpleasant as the sound of nails scraping on a chalkboard, but let’s explore whether exercise can potentially alleviate any of those classic hangover symptoms.
Currently, we don't have enough research to determine if exercise can actually speed up the metabolism of alcohol. While exercise may not directly cure a hangover, it offers various benefits such as improved blood circulation, the release of mood-boosting endorphins, and serving as a productive distraction from the discomfort generally associated with a hangover. It’s better than munching leftover pizza and bingeing box sets, basically.
However, it’s important to keep an eye out for the potential risks of exercising with a hangover. Firstly, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and leads to dehydration. As you lose fluids in sweat while exercising, this can further dehydrate the body.
Hangovers can also come with feelings of fatigue, with a 2020 study showing that having a hangover may impair workout performance, with hungover participants experiencing significantly more exhaustion when performing physical activity at the same level as non-hungover participants.
Finally, hangovers can affect your coordination and fine motor skills, which could make you more prone to injuries during exercise. A small 2020 study found being hungover affected multitasking abilities, cognitive function, stress response, and perceived effort levels.
Nonetheless, if you’re feeling up for it, light exercises can be the way to go. Perhaps aim to choose something that won’t put excessive strain on your body - that HIIT workout you saw on TikTok is best left for another day. Ideas for low-impact exercises include walking, yoga, swimming, and light mobility exercises.
It’s completely up to you to make a judgment call based on how you feel. Exercise may be the positive space you need, but remember that it’s important to listen to your body, stay hydrated and take breaks if needed.
Jessica Stansfield, RNutr
Junior Nutrition Manager
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