While some studies have shown that having a glass of wine or a bottle of beer (note: just one) can potentially provide some benefit to brain health, anyone who’s ever had a big night out knows that alcohol negatively affects your ability to work out the following day.
Since alcohol wreaks havoc on your sleep cycle, you wake up feeling tired and groggy no matter how much you slept in. And studies have shown that not getting a good night of rest decreases your aerobic performance and oxygen uptake, making it much harder to go all-out on the treadmill.
Still, we’ve all heard about the benefits of “sweating it out” at the gym after a late night, and it’s true that sweat gets rid of toxins in the body. Alcohol has also been found to lower testosterone levels by increasing estrogen (which is why chronic drinkers often attain the dreaded “man boobs”), so working out helps correct this hormonal imbalance.
But it’s also true that exercising on a hangover can be dangerous, or even deadly. Read on to discover why. And for more smart tips for what to do after a night of drinking, check out The 10 Best Science-Backed Hangover Cures.
You’re More Likely to Drink Again
After a night of heavy drinking, it’s pretty crucial to give your body at least a full day to detox and get back to normal. But a 2014 study found that people tend to drink more on the days that they hit the gym, especially on weekends. Researchers speculate that this may be because people feel they have “earned” an alcoholic beverage as a reward for working out.
But not only does that drink negate some of the work you’ve done, it also makes it more likely that you’ll spin into a perpetual cycle of hangovers. And for more on the benefits of cutting down on alcohol, check out This Stunning Weight Loss Photo That Will Inspire you to Curb Your Booze Consumption.
Sure, you can walk in a straight line. But because alcohol lowers your blood pressure glucose levels, you wake up feeling fatigued and foggy. Even if you feel fine, you’re likely to be more clumsy, and therefore more prone to injury. You’re also less likely to be able to concentrate properly, which makes lifting weights particularly dangerous. Even if you go with a light workout, like yoga, you’ll find that it’s much harder to balance, meaning you’re bound to fall and hurt yourself.
You Can Get Cramps
Sweating out toxins sounds great, but the reality is that breaking down alcohol puts a lot of strain on your body, so adding to that could make things even worse.
“The by-products of breaking down the alcohol in your body is excreted in sweat as a toxin,” Ian Streetz, a boxing personal trainer in London, recently told The Independent. “This is released in higher concentration if the body is dehydrated, which can lead to cramps, strains and injury.”
It Harms Muscle Reovery
There’s a reason why even die-hard drinkers like James McAvoy went totally sober while beefing up his body. Alcohol lowers the rate of protein synthesis, the biological process that enables cells to build new proteins, by a whopping 20 percent. This makes it much harder to build muscle, as well as making it more difficult for your body to recover from your workout.
It Dehydrates You Even More
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes the kidneys release more water than you take in. In the simplest terms, a hangover is basically a state of intense dehydration, which is why the simplest way to avoid one is to drink a bunch of water before going to bed. Since you obviously sweat a lot while working out, exercise can cause even more dehydration, which can make you faint or, in severe cases, even cause death. So if you do decide to exercise with a hangover, it’s critical that you consume even more water than usual.
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