So you went out last night and had one (or three or four) too many drinks and wake up feeling lousy. All you want to do is curl up with a cool cloth on your head and a bottle of Tums next to you, but then you wonder if you can work off that hangover. Sorry, bad idea. The best course of action is to stay home or do some very light exercise.

Sweating out the alcohol?
People often think you can sweat alcohol out of your system. Wrong.
When your liver processes alcohol, it turns into acetic acid, which is basically a poison. It’s that acid that causes massive dehydration, nausea and a feeling of unsteadiness.
While you might feel a bit better physically after a workout, it’s not because you got rid of any extra alcohol. Rather, you probably just created some endorphins from exercise.
What may also happen is you’ll likely sweat out more water than alcohol and be worse off in the long run because that increases dehydration.

Dehydration doesn’t just involve your body losing water through sweating or urinating more. You’re also losing all kinds of minerals and electrolytes – things your body needs to stay in balance.

Hurting your goals
Generally, the point of exercise is to create a deficit in your energy system, which will then, hopefully, result in metabolization of body fat.
When alcohol is in your system, your body shuts down all other energy metabolism systems. Instead of using carbohydrates or stored fat, you’re functioning under the alcohol and its effects.
Strenuous exercise is a stress on the body and the adaptive response that comes from that stress is healthy and worth going through. However, if you're putting your body through stressful exercise but can’t perform it to a degree that causes that adaptive response because you’re under the influence of alcohol and dehydrated, your efforts are mostly for nothing.
Remember, progress doesn’t occur in the gym. It’s an adaptive response to exercise that happens while you’re resting, sleeping and eating properly. You’re not going to have proper protein synthesis, muscle rebuilding and metabolic increases if your body is compromised by alcohol.

Hurting yourself
Having a hangover at the gym also increases the risk of injury.
There have been instances when people have passed out during a workout, or banged their head on the bar of an exercise machine. The cause of those incidents often relate to dehydration.

Better exercise options
If you really want to get your body moving, skip the full workout and do something like yoga – and drink plenty of water while you do it.
Another option is going for a walk to clear your mind. While you’re at it, drink about two litres of tea or warm water to get your liver properly functioning again.
Both of those light exercises won’t cause a sweat so you won’t add to your dehydration, plus drinking those fluids helps relieve the symptoms of a hangover.
If you do attempt something like a cross-fit workout, you’ll pay the price. What will likely happen is your muscles are going to be sore and will probably cramp. You may also feel dizzy and nauseous.

How to feel better
Eating good food while hungover is important because you lose a lot of B vitamins and magnesium when you get really drunk. A homemade chicken broth the next day will be easy on the stomach.
You might also find a bit of relief from supplement packages on the market that contain some of the minerals and electrolytes you’ve lost.
But the only real solution to a hangover is time. You’ll likely rid your body of the alcohol and acetic acid in about 24 hours.

Preplan your partying
If you’re trying to do anything meaningful with your workout routine, obviously you shouldn’t be drinking to the point of a hangover.
If you are planning to drink, put some thought into it beforehand.
Make sure to drink water or consume a beverage that has a lot of water in it. Some alcohol is also better than others. A high-quality, micro-brewed beer made from organic ingredients is better than a beer in a can made with genetically modified grains.

Above all, think about how you want to feel the next day before hoisting too many alcoholic beverages.