Picture this: you wake up after a night on the town with a pounding headache, upset stomach, and the inability to lift your head from the pillow. For some reason, you’re up at 7 a.m. and you can’t decide whether to vomit or die – both of which are viable options. Sound familiar? Last time this happened you vowed to never touch alcohol again but, alas – here you are battling the dreaded hangover, yet again.
It’s no secret that pushing happy hour to its limits can yield a morning full of not-so-happy hours. Every guy has a multitude of trusted remedies from rehydrating with coconut water to downing pounds of greasy bacon. Often the combination of the most trusted remedies are no match for the worst hangover. However, there is one easy fix that is guaranteed to kick the shit out of that pesky hangover: Exercise. No matter how impossible this sounds the bottom line is that it works.
Next time, jump out of bed, wash off your shame from last night, and head to the gym – exercise should be at the top of your list of hangover cures. Unlike most morning after treatments this one is supported in science. Let me first educate you on the physiology of a hangover: According to the MayoClinic alcohol contain congeners which are byproducts of fermentation (the process by which alcohol is made); these leftovers are the substances that cause hangovers. Congeners are in all types of alcohol but are found in especially high levels in red wine, flavored alcohol, and dark colored liquors. This is also where the age old adage, “Liquor before beer in the clear. Beer before liquor never sicker” originated. Beer, due to its carbonation, speeds up the absorption of alcohol. Drinking a few brews followed by liquor gives the body less time to metabolize both. Less time to metabolize, as well as an increased number of congeners, results in an intensified hangover.
More science! How does exercise help get rid of my hangover? Getting back to your normal, feel-good self requires the body, specifically the liver, to metabolize alcohol. Working out ramps up your heart rate, leads to increased blood flow, releases metabolic enzymes, and results in a faster metabolic rate. Speeding up metabolic rate shortens the amount of time experiencing the effects of a hangover. If you want to end the pounding head pain, get up and workout.
It is extremely important to hydrate when you exercise because drinking from the night before already wipes out your fluid levels. Compound that with the water loss associated with exercise and you could be dealing with the most significant bout of cottonmouth in your life. The easy solution is to drink water: The better solution is gatorade or another sports drinks that counter the depletion of electrolytes. Next time you are suffering from a thirst quenching Thursday be sure to get your butt out of bed and to the gym to relieve your hangover.