Image: Sex and the City.
So it’s the morning after the night before, and with some help with your frenemy tequila you’ve taken a deep dive into hell.
Your head is spinning, your mouth is dryer than a week-old loaf of bread, and every fibre of your being is flipping you the bird. To add salt to an already agonising wound, the heel has snapped off your favourite shoes and your hair smells like an ashtray.
With all the wonders of medical science, it seems cruel that we still don’t have a sure-fire cure for the dreaded hangover. While humankind awaits that fateful day, we’ve had to find our own remedies. Some people swear by coffee, others believe in the restorative powers of bacon, and we all have that one friend who claims exercise does the trick.
Although that sounds like the worst possible idea, we all know physical activity is great for our health in general. So it seems almost logical that sweating it out could help relieve a hangover… but is it really a good idea? (Post continues after gallery.)
The answer largely depends what kind of exercise you have in mind — and how severe your hangover is. But generally speaking, being active might help you feel a little less like a corpse with a sore head.
“I think generally it does make you feel better, because you’re actually getting the body moving, you’re getting cells moving around, you’re increasing your metabolism and energy and blood flow… that’s why people think that they should do it,” says personal trainer, CHEK practitioner and lululemon athletica ambassador Leila Lutz. Those mood-boosting endorphins will cheer you up, too.
However, thanks to your reckless enthusiasm the night before, your body is going to be a little compromised so you have to proceed with caution. In short: if you really want to do some exercise, go easy. Very easy.
First of all, the diuretic effect of alcohol means your body's going to be incredibly dehydrated — and your thermoregulation will also be impaired. Vigorously working out while you're in this state could only make things worse, even when you're drinking water.
"You're so dehydrated already and devoid of sugars, fats, salts, minerals, and then you go and sweat it all out and take more of it out of the body. You're just doubling up on the mess you did last night," Lutz, who founded Momentum for Life, says.
Then there's your poor, alcohol-savaged liver. This is one seriously hard-working organ in your body, and one of its many vital roles is to detoxify your system — which takes a bit more work than usual when you've flooded your system with alcohol (and, um, 3am kebabs). Exercise can actually drain your body of the nutrients it requires for this process, along with energy, so it's almost like self-sabotage. (Post continues after gallery.)
"The other role of the liver is to control blood sugar, so you when need energy the liver's in charge of that. If you exercise, you're going to have to take more away from the body to provide the energy for you to exercise," Lutz explains.