Between all the holiday parties, house guests and office happy hours, there’s a chance you might imbibe just a bit too much one of these nights. That can make for a rough morning. We speak, of course, of the dreaded hangover.
Everyone’s got their own remedy for righting the ship. Maybe it’s black coffee and a cold shower. Or Advil and an egg-and-cheese sandwich. Or maybe it’s just going back to bed for a few hours.
But can you sweat out that hangover to speed your recovery?
It’s something many people swear by, whether it’s via going for a run in the morning or spending 20 minutes in the sauna. But is it effective?
Fortunately, some of the world’s greatest minds have wondered the same thing. The British Journal of Sports Medicine studied the link between physical activity and alcohol consumption as they relate to one’s health and mortality. The findings showed that exercising at the recommended physical activity level — at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week — offsets some of the risks and harmful effects of drinking. Now, that’s not the same as curing your current hangover, but exercise shows promise for combatting some of the overall damage alcohol does to your body.
THE ANSWER AND THE ANALYSIS
Again, exercising off a hangover is different, and we should be careful. Alcohol is a diuretic, pulling water from your blood and even your brain. This leaves you dehydrated, and can lead to everything from sluggishness to nausea to a pounding headache.
“Sweating out a hangover isn’t a great idea,” said Louise Chen, a registered dietitian. “If you’ve drunk enough to be hungover, you’re likely dehydrated, so sweating would only make things worse. Our liver tries its best to take care of us, including the metabolism of alcohol.” So by the time you’re hungover, the majority of the alcohol in your system has already been metabolized by your liver — meaning it’s too late to sweat it out.
That doesn’t mean a morning workout can’t make you feel better, though. Given the rejuvenating effects of exercise, including an increase in endorphins, it is possible a workout can boost your energy. Just keep things reasonable, stay hydrated and leave the 10-mile run for a morning when you haven’t been drinking the night before.
READ MORE > 5 COCKTAIL HACKS FOR HEALTHIER HOLIDAY DRINKING
SO WHAT CURES A HANGOVER?
Unfortunately, one’s ability to significantly nullify a hangover, whatever the means, isn’t likely.
According to a BMJ study available via the National Institutes of Health: “No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover.” That includes anecdotal favorites like raw egg yolks, over-the-counter hangover aids, hair of the dog and, yes, exercise. It continues: “The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol-induced hangover is to practice abstinence or moderation.”
Sure, that’s easy to say now. But then your uncle starts talking politics, and that second glass of eggnog appears in your hand. It happens. Just do your best to moderate your intake, and be sure to drink plenty of water alongside those alcoholic beverages. Your morning will thank you.