When you're hungover, the last thing you want to do is get up from your couch or your bed and get a workout in, though it can be tempting to muster up the energy to head to the gym, especially if it'll make the beating headache, nauseated feelings, and full-body irritability go away. But should you stay in bed and nurse your hangover with a gallon of water or should you put on pants and sweat it out at a boot-camp class?
First, let's understand exactly what is happening to our body when we wake up feeling full of alcohol. Paul Salter, RD, MS, the founder of Fit in Your Dress, says that feeling hungover is a result of being significantly dehydrated.
"When you drink alcohol, you experience an increase in urine production and increased excretion of electrolytes, namely sodium and potassium," Salter says. "Failure to replenish the fluid and electrolytes lost in a timely manner leads to headaches and nausea, as well as impaired coordination, strength, energy, and ability to concentrate."
So is it OK to get your body moving? The short answer is yes. Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, says you must be smart about it.
"Hangovers can often bring along dehydration, sluggishness, a lack of balance, and general malaise — not ideal factors to be working out under," Backe says. "However, if you tread carefully and ease yourself into a workout when hungover, it can actually represent a great way to overcome that hangover." Here is how working out can the cure you need.
Working Out Will Help Your Hangover Moodiness Go Away
One benefit of getting yourself to the gym is that working out with a hangover can help improve your overall mood. Bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete Nikki Walter says that there are pros to working out hungover, even if that workout is just at an easy pace.
"Get a workout in. It will help stimulate the release of endorphins," Walter says. "That way, you'll find yourself in a better mood with a better state of mind."
Skip the Weights and Do Yoga Instead
Rather than weight training, intense cardiovascular exercise, or something of the like, Backe says to opt for stretching exercises, yoga, or Pilates instead.
"This can serve as an excellent way to wake your body up and out of its funk while not compromising you in your vulnerable physical state," Backe says. Plus, USA Powerlifting athlete, coach, and Bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete Meg Squats advises you to skip the weights to avoid danger and injuries.
"A few too many drinks the night before could mean you're still a bit tipsy, and you definitely don't want to be handling heavy weights in that state," she says. "A foggy hangover headache may cause a lack of effort for technical movements, meaning a lackadaisical session or a mistake that results in injury."
Drink Up Before You Hit the Gym
Before you decide what time to go to the gym or what workout class to sign up for, be sure to begin a rehydrating process long before you leave your house.
"To help rehydrate prior to working out, it's imperative that you consume both fluids and electrolytes. This can be done several different ways," says Salter. "You can have low/no-calorie sports drinks or have plenty of water with a salty meal or snack."