Updated on January 05, 2023
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When you’ve got a hangover, you’ll try anything to kick it to the curb. If you hit the internet, there’s an endless supply of articles suggesting home remedies that will ‘cure’ a hangover. One such remedy is ‘sweating it out’ at the gym with a hangover workout.
The question is, does it really work? In theory, the idea of sweating a hangover out would mean flushing your body of toxins, thus removing the hangover. Well, that’s not the case. In fact, there are several reasons you should NOT workout while you’re suffering through your hangover. Not only will it be almost impossible for you to make it to the gym, it’s not safe.
We’ve all had a friend insist on a workout class the morning after a night of drinking. The good news is now you’ll have an informed answer as to why you’re passing on pre-brunch pilates. So, let’s talk about why working out when you’re hungover isn’t good for you.
First, we obviously know a hangover will make you feel terrible. Knowing why this happens will give you a better understanding into the reasons a workout isn’t going to go well. Along with the headache, nausea and overall fatigue, alcohol is doing other things to your body, too.
The main causes of a hangover are dehydration, inflammation, congeners and poor sleep. That combination is going to do some damage to your body that takes a while to bounce back from. You start to feel hungover when your liver begins to metabolize the alcohol in your body. On average, the liver can metabolize one drink every hour. If you drink more than that, you’ll become drunk, and then terribly hungover the next day.
Along with your typical hangover symptoms, alcohol can impair your cognitive ability which can result in being more clumsy. Being on gym equipment is not the best idea when your brain is fuzzy.
Simply put, you’re not going to feel great. The last place you’re going to want to be is the gym for many reasons. It will be miserable, and you’ll be putting yourself at risk.
The Risks of Working Out Hungover
The idea of getting your sweat on when hungover may sound ideal. Exercise releases endorphins, and all you want after a night of drinking is to feel good again. It’s important to consider the risks of working out hungover before attempting to do so.
You’ll Be Clumsy
When you’re hungover, you’re less coordinated. When we look at hangover research, it typically focuses on the classic symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. What they don’t talk about is how alcohol can impair your cognitive ability, making you clumsy.
Typically, when you’re at the gym you’re using equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals. When you’re not in tip top shape, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury. One wrong move and you’re falling flat on your face off the machines!
This doesn’t only apply to the gym, either. Going for a jog outside when your mind is cloudy means you’re at a higher risk of falling, as well. Not only that, who wants to face the gym again after falling on a treadmill?
Another side effect of a hangover that isn’t discussed much is brain fog. Brain fog can linger for a few days even after the hangover subsides, which can make you feel cloudy and unable to focus. Pair brain fog with clumsiness, and working out is a recipe for disaster.
If you’re feeling foggy, stay away from lifting weight and other heavy gym items. All it takes is zoning out for a little bit and you could hurt yourself.
One of the biggest causes of a hangover is dehydration. This is because alcohol is a diuretic. As you drink alcohol, your body loses more water than it’s taking in by sweating and urinating. Most of your typical hangover symptoms are due to dehydration.
When you exercise, you sweat more. This can increase dehydration. If you’re already dehydrated from drinking the night prior, it’s going to make matters worse. You might be able to get away with an evening workout if you hydrate during the day, but it’s best to stay away from high intensity workouts.
Overall, working out hungover is risky business. The thought of releasing endorphins to feel good is enticing, but the cons are going to outweigh the pros. You could end up seriously injuring yourself, and feeling much worse than you did before.
Is There Any Exercise Possible When Hungover?
If you really want to get moving, it is possible to do so. We’re not encouraging you to stay in bed and be lazy all day! Be sure to take precautions. Follow these tips and stay away from the gym.
Take it Easy
Getting the blood flowing is a great way to improve hangover fatigue. With that being said, we still encourage you to stay away from the gym and high intensity exercise. Instead, talk a slow walk or get on the yoga mat. Don’t push it, and do a shorter workout than you would normally. Remember to be kind to your hungover body!
As we mentioned, dehydration is one of the main hangover culprits. If you do choose to workout, have your water bottle nearby. Don’t run out the door the second you wake up. Take time to drink enough water and continue to do so during light exercise.
If you’re on a strict workout routine, save a cheat day for a hangover. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in this fragile state. You won’t be dead lifting or running a mile after a night of cocktails.
Along with being realistic, if missing a day of your workout will get in the way of what you’re accomplishing, plan ahead. Don’t go out if you have a big workout you can’t miss the next day. Remember, if you go out drinking a hangover is always on the table. There’s no way to completely avoid it.
Is Exercising With a Hangover Safe?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. It ultimately depends on the type of exercise. We definitely do not recommend operating exercise equipment and going to the gym. If you absolutely must exercise, try taking a walk or doing some yoga. Keep it easy and simple. Pushing yourself may make your hangover last longer.
Anything Else to Consider?
The bottom line is that a hangover is never fun. Your body is being put through a lot trying to metabolize last night’s decisions, so the last thing you should be doing is overexerting yourself. If you have concerns, please consult with your medical provider before trying any type of exercise when you’re hungover. Be safe, drink responsibly, and have fun!