For those of us who enjoy a drink from time to time, we have (almost) all had that experience where we imbibed one too many and were not feeling too grand about it the next day. However, you may have also heard the rumors that running is a cure-all for this affliction––sweating it out. But, does running with a hangover ease the symptoms or could you risk making it worse, let’s find out?
What causes a hangover?
Drinking, of course, is the easy answer––a hangover is what happens after we have a little too much alcohol to drink; it's likely that the morning after the night before you’ll feel tired, dehydrated, ill and headachy, but did you ever stop to wonder why?
Alcohol affects your body in numerous ways, and not all of them lead to that pleasant, social lubricant buzz. Conversely, most are not so nice at all. Here's what alcohol does to your system:
- The alcohol we drink is composed of ethanol, a chemical compound that gives you that drunk feeling; and one of the first things it does to your body is make you need to go to the bathroom more frequently. That is the diuretic effect which makes you dehydrated. But that's not all.
- Drinking also provokes a response from your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness. It also expands your blood vessels, giving you those pesky after-drinking headaches.
- That ill feeling in your stomach that you've been having, well, that's due to how alcohol passes through your system. It irritates the lining of your stomach and affects the level of microbes in your gut.
- Last but not least on our list, alcohol causes a drop in blood sugar. When you drink initially, your blood sugar levels may rise as the body puts its efforts into getting the toxins out of your system. I In turn, this affects the effectiveness of insulin production, meaning that afterwards, you’re likely to experience low blood sugar, which results in tiredness and irritability.
Combine all this, and what you got is one mean hangover. And the more you drink, the worse it’s going to get. Saying that it's generally considered ok to indulge in a glass or two from time to time, but keep it to a minimum, and you'll still be feeling ready to go the next day.
Does running help a hangover?
As an exercise fanatic, you’ve probably heard that running hungover is a great way to sweat out the toxins and get your body back on track. We hate to break it to you, but if you’ve got a full-blown case of a hangover, putting on your running shoes and hitting the pavement isn’t going to help.
What you need to do is rest, hydrate, and recover. But more on that later.
That said if you only have a tinge of a hangover––groggy, but not sick––you may consider continuing your exercise routine, with caution. If you feel you’re able to get out from under the covers, these are the three absolute-must steps you will need to take:
As we’ve said before, one of the first things alcohol does is dehydrate your body, so your first action before you even think about that run is to drink some water.
2. Eat a nutritious breakfast
After a night of drinking it’s time to get your body back in balance; healthy fats and carbs will help get you feeling more like yourself in no time at all. Focus on eating boiled eggs, avocado, or tasty porridge dishes to give you the energy you’ll need for your run.
3. Take it easy––no marathons for you!
While no marathoner would dream of turning up with a ranging hangover, we can’t say this enough––take it easy! Even if your headache the morning after isn’t too bad, give yourself a bit of break and cut down on the intensity of your run, at least for one day.
Three hangover cures that really work!
Sorry to disappoint, there’s no hair of the dog here, only real tips to get you feeling better.
Get plenty of sleep
Alcohol is a depressant; it disrupts sleep patterns and quality. So, when you think about it, what better excuse to take a duvet day.
Provided you have no additional medical issues, you may consider taking some supplements to help you overcome the fog. Red ginseng, prickly pear, ginger and borage oil, are all considered hangover helpers.
Although we definitely don’t recommend a full session at the gym, some gentle yoga may help you get back to feeling more like yourself by stretching and relaxing your muscles. Take it easy and remember to breathe correctly and you’ll feel the benefits from your gentle workout.
Bonus point – Prevent, don’t cure!
Prevention is always better than a cure, so even though it may be too late this time, next time around remember––eat before you drink, know your limits and stick to them, and drink slowly to avoid the pain the next day.