Running Advice – Exercising With a Hangover

Running Advice - Exercising With a Hangover

Regulars to this site will know by now that my main weapon against the belly bulge is running – I love it…yet hate it…at the same time (no pain, no gain!).

Those closest to me will also know that I like a drink or two throughout the week…and that sometimes leads to me exercising with a hangover.

I have to admit – this running lark is usually the best way for me to kick that ‘morning after’ feeling, it’s brilliant way of sweating out the night before.

But is this type of exercise good for a body that’s already been through the mill with alcohol?

What damage can this do (if any) and how should you approach exercising with a hangover?

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Should You Run After A Super-Binge?

Okay, okay, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a super-binge of alcohol – lets just say a skin-full!

Personally, I always thought that exercising the morning after was a big NO-NO for your body – I thought it would do more harm than good. But, I’ve come across conflicting views on this through my research…

What Matthew Kornblatt Says…

And who the #### is Matthew Kornblatt? (I hear you say).

Well, Matthew Kornblatt is a certified personal trainer and the founder of RightFit Nation.

He seems to think that exercising the morning after is the best way to get rid of the body toxins from the night before (the crap they put in alcoholic drinks!). Apparently we just sweat all the garbage out of us.

Should You Run After A Super-Binge?

He believes that you need to eat a meal made up of carbs before taking on the workout, something like oats or fruit, it restores the energy that the hangover takes off you (this meal is to be consumed about an hour before the workout starts).

NOTE: I’m pretty much against this meal thingy because I’m a runner – I need to put at least 2 hours between eating and starting a run…otherwise I tend to throw up in my mouth halfway through the run!

He also points out that it is important to drink a load of water before your workout – a hangover usually means your body is dehydrated and needs more liquid in it.


So What Actually Happens To Your Body When You’re Hungover?

This is the important part really BEFORE you decide to take on ‘drunk running’ or not – what is actually going on inside your body?

1) Your Head (Ache)

Excess alcohol upsets the production of vasopressin, a hormone that controls fluid balance. This means you are constantly running to the toilet throughout the night out in question, to have a wee!

This is one of the main causes of dehydration the following morning.

Alcohol also messes about with your immune system’s cytokines. These are chemical messengers that get off on switching on the ‘pain button’ in your body. This contributes to the headache you get the next day.

The darker choices of alcohol also contribute to the hangover headache. If you choose to drink a clean spirit like vodka you are giving yourself more of a chance of avoiding a bad head the next day.

Darker options like whiskey, bourbon, beer and dark wines contain more congeners – these little blighters can exacerbate hangovers.

2) Oh My Liver!

Yep, we all worry about this one…and rightly so! What happens to our livers when we consume a ton of alcohol?

A liver can in theory, only detox one alcoholic drink per hour. Now, if you are a reasonably slow drinker (which I am not), and you can pace yourself (which I can’t), you are far more likely to get away with a reasonably healthy liver.

P.S. The last thing your liver needs on the morning after is a ton of headache killers like acetaminophen piled into the body!

3) Stomach

Alcohol irritates the stomach – some suffer from this more than others (I suffer from this!).

Some people get sick at the very thought of food ‘the day after’ – this is down to alcohol playing games with your stomach AND a little bit of alcohol withdrawal (believe it or not!).

4) The Levels of Your Energy

So you were up late drinking last night – that is why you are so knackered the next morning right?

Well, this isn’t the only reason I’m afraid. When you sleep after drinking you are not really getting ‘proper’ sleep – it actually disturbs the brain’s normal sleep cycles.

It’s also worth noting that in most cases your energy levels will be screwed up for a full 24 hours. There are no real cures for this (so forget about the old wives tale of greasy eggs and bacon!).


Exercising With a Hangover

So there you have it – the ball is well and truly in your court!

Matthew Kornblatt seems to think that exercising is a great way to get over a hangover, and I agree with him to a point, but that’s as far as it goes with my own personal opinion!

You see, I sometimes run distance to get over the night before and it works well – but I don’t necessarily feel that great afterwards. I also wonder how good this sort of option is for the heart – surely running with a hangover puts more strain on it?

So I’m looking for your own personal opinions on this subject – do you often exercise after a night out drinking? Does it help you feel better? Do you think it could possibly work against your body in the long run?

Please leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

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24 thoughts on “Running Advice – Exercising With a Hangover

  1. Hi Chris,
    What is the benefit that gives me running having a hangover in my body? Surely you will not have benefits and you will have a very heavy extra charge. Therefore, if you like to drink a good wine like me do it but always in moderation. I run every week I try to get better day after day, it’s a sacrifice for me, but why do I do it? Because I always feel young. Thank you!

    1. Okay, struggling a bit to figure out what your question is?

      The article is simply pointing out the pros and cons of running with a hangover – it’s certainly not meant to promote drinking large amounts and THEN exercising! 

  2. The more I can sweat after a night of alcoholic frivolity, the quicker I can work the residual alcohol out of my body.

    To do that, I walk a few miles instead of running. Or, if it is a hot day, I may do a few hours of yard work to work up a good sweat.

    To keep from getting that wonderful (?) hangover headache, the last thing I do before I go to bed after a night of drinking – and the first thing I do in the morning – is swallow a Goody Powder with a beer.

    I know – I know – more alcohol for my body to get rid of. But, the beer eases the nasty, bitter taste of the Goody Powder and smooths out the roughness my body feels when waking up. And, the powdered aspirin shoots quickly through my body so I don’t get that feeling that I have a rusty nail stuck in my forehead!

    Jim

    1. Ah, they say the hair of the dog is the best way to go with hangovers Jim – the cowboy way of getting over a bad head! 

      It’s not for me – the last thing I can face is more when I have a hangover, but if it works for you – go for it! 

  3. I must admit that I don’t know of anyone who has tried to exercise when they have a hangover. Actually they look more lethargic than ever and exercise is far from their thoughts. Running seems to be a great way for you to kick start the hangover day, so I will definitely pass on this suggestion to those that I know could benefit.

    1. Hi Carol – well you know me now! I’ve done it plenty of times!!!! 

      If you are really reeling, I don’t suggest taking on exercise (i.e. a bottle of whisky the night before!). This will only result in you collapsing about ten meters down the road…

  4. For me, exercise after the night before didn’t work and the more I got into exercise the less, I imbibed. These days I am “drink unfit” and physically unfit – I wonder which I should start up with again, lol! Interesting article, thank you.

  5. Crikey! I cannot imagine running with a hangover, actually I can’t imagine running at all for that matter. Anyway, I guess all the sweating you do helps sweat out the toxins. I can’t help thinking you’d be putting a lot of strain on your liver in it’s current overloaded state though. Mmmh., maybe I’d prefer to sit in a sauna to sweat out the toxins, or better still, sweat it out under a duvet with some heavy duty ibuprofen  

  6. This is a very interesting post. It is interesting to review this conflicting information. It does make sense that you would be able to sweat the toxin out (sort of like a sauna right?). It is very interesting to see exactly what a hangover entails.

    Everyone tells you about the headache, but I don’t really hear much about the liver. You are right though overloading it with drinks and medication is asking for trouble. I had no idea about the brain sleep patterns being disrupted or energy imbalance for 24 hours.

    Running with a headache would probably make each step feel like an explosion in your head if the headache is bad enough. I think that if a person can do it though it is worth a try to see if it works for them. Perhaps the exercise high can alleviate some of the symptoms and help get your metabolic function back in tune?

    Thanks for the interesting read!

  7. In my younger days I felt the need to over indulge occasionally (read – once a week!) and I can tell you that the only exercise that I ever got was the type where you put your head in a bucket and … well you know …

    In one of our neighbouring towns we would frequently get invited to parties but they had a rule: Next morning you had to have a drink before you could leave, so having some of those headache killers then was the best thing.

    How could one actually consider going for a run, or performing any sort of exercise the morning after?

  8. Hey Chris, this post made me grin lol – it was also really interesting to read about Matthew Kornblatt’s take on it and also just generally the effects of alcohol causing havocl  I should actually try to go for a run (or at least a walk) next time and note the effect, my natural response to a hangover is to gingerly hold onto my pillow and avoid moving at all costs! Although drinking more to cure a hangover sounds like terrible advice I actually think there’s something to it – I bravely (or stupidly) tried it once out of curiosity and it worked for me – I don’t mean “over-doing” it, just one cider or a beer seems to do the trick. Folks reading this comment – for the record I strongly advice against following my stupidity! 😉

  9. The hangover is due to the presence of alcohol residues in the body, various metabolic disturbances, and not least the accumulation of an intermediate product of alcohol breakdown – acetaldehyde . 

    In addition to excretion with urine and feces, a large amount is excreted with exhaled air and sweat. During physical exercise in general, and when running at random, the rate of elimination and decomposition of toxins increases significantly. 

    Although the load on the cardiovascular system also increases. I think you can run. But be careful (considering the state of health, age, etc.). And it is desirable to run not only during hangover but constantly.

    For example, I ran, but did not drink.Here is my opinion on the topic. The best thing with a hangover is to go to bed and let the body finish its work, because until it turns acetic aldehyde into acetic acid, and its – in carbon dioxide and water, we will feel unwell. 

    Many thanks to the author for an interesting topic, article and invitation to the discussion. Mark

  10. I acknowledge all the benefits of exercising with a Hangover, as per Mathew Knornblatt’s advise, but I found it very difficult to exercise with a hangover. Usually, I don’t take alcohol during working days, I do it in the weekends and when I wake up the day after, I found myself very weak to do any exercise. I may need to practice that in the future. 

    Thank you so much for great article

    1. No problem mate – it’s not for everyone at the end of the day! 

      If you find yourself too weak, then I advise going back to bed instead! 🙂

  11. Hello Chris,

    I have always liked to run, jog, as in these moments of my life I am doing them. I played a lot football in clubs, in places. 

    It has always been an effort for me to run, to jog, I also feel happy doing it. 

    I could not perform any physical exercise with alcohol in the body. 

    I love to have a good wine at meals. 

    Regards! 

    Claudio

  12. Hello Chris, 

    A very engaging and thought-provoking article. I do drink my occasional glass of ‘healthy’ red wine and I do my occasional ‘walk’ not run…but all in all, I try to keep it healthy.

    I learned a few things from your article…I did not know that the darker the liquor the more possibility of it giving you a bad hangover – very interesting. And omg, the liver thing. One drink an hour…I have to pass this article along to a ‘fish drinker’ friend of mine…she needs to be aware of this.

    You give some great info, and I thank you for this. So basically, I would opt for a long walk if ever I get the hangover thing, though I doubt it.

    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Well a walk is better than nothing – kinda like a really slow run when you think about it! As long as you put a decent distance in with the walk, should work out fine! 

  13. Hi Chris,

    Well, this is an interesting article. But I personally don’t think that running the next morning after a hangover is a good idea. I’m not an expert in this though but that is my personal opinion. I know taking in some water before running is very good even if you have not taking any alcoholic drink, since exercising dehydrate the body. So, it make sense to take in some water before running and I think that may even helps to cleanse the body of toxins.

    However, eating before running sounds a bit strange to me. I haven’t done it before and I think know how it will feel to that, but in my opinion that will make you feel a bit heavier and making it running difficult for you. So, I always run on an empty stomach. The ONLY think I take is water before setting off.

    If someone wants to do some exercise after taking alcohol for whatever reason, I think there are other ways of going about this instead of running. Thanks for the 4 key points you made there, they really make sense, alcohol can have some negative impact on the body. I never knew it could affect the liver that way. thanks for sharing, I will share this with a friend who believes that drinking too much  alcohol is rather good for body.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable information with us.

    Stephen.

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