When one Old Fashioned turns into too many to count, the next day can be a serious struggle to do anything productive. But while you might want to spend hours lying on the sofa watching episodes of The Simpsons, consider throwing on some workout clothes and dragging yourself to the gym. “Even a 20- to 30-minute workout is better than nothing,” says Jim White, RDN, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach. “Moving gets your blood flowing and speeds your metabolism up — two things that help your body start to feel like normal.” Plus there’s that natural endorphin-related mood boost that comes with exercise.
While that sounds great, you need to prepare yourself beforehand. First things first: Chug some water. “One of the reasons hangovers hurt so bad is because you’re dehydrated,” says White. “So drink at least 16 ounces right away, then four to eight ounces every 15 minutes you’re exercising, then another 16 ounces afterwards.” If your temples are pounding, pop an ibuprofen with that first glass of water and scramble up some eggs. “Eggs have choline, which reduces the severity of a hangover and can alleviate some of your headache,” says White.
As for what to do when you get there, this is no time to go after a personal record or push yourself too hard. “High-intensity exercises can make hangovers feel worse — they can bring on headaches and increase nausea — plus sweating too much can add to the dehydration,” says White. You also shouldn’t try anything that requires too much skill work or balance. “When you drink a lot the night before, you’re a lot less coordinated the next day and might have trouble concentrating,” says Edward Jackowski, PhD, founder of Exude Fitness in New York. “That means you can injure yourself if you aren’t careful.”
So in other words, go with easier versions of your standard movements. Simple cardio exercises like walking on an incline, jogging, or riding a stationary bike are great. You can also do stretching (an easy yoga class is good, just don’t do sweat-inducing Bikram), light weight lifting, or some core work. Ready to give it a shot? Try this hangover-curing workout from White:
Warm-Up: five minutes on a stationary bike.
Workout: Do three sets of each exercise, using lighter weights than normal and resting whenever you need to.
- Squats: 10 reps
- Lunges: 10 reps per side
- Push-Ups: As many as you can until failure
- Shoulder Press: 10 reps
- Overhead Triceps Extension: 10 reps
- Alternating Bicep Curls with a Dumbbell: 10 reps per side
- Sit-Ups: 25 reps
- Plank: 1 minute
- Bicycle Kicks: 30 seconds
Cool Down: five minutes on a bike or walking on an 8-degree incline