Should You Exercise When Hungover Or Having A Cold?

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Before we talk about whether you should exercise or not after a night of libation, let’s first talk about what is happening inside your body the morning after that makes you feel so bad.

First, excessive alcohol upsets the production of a hormone in the brain that controls fluid balance, causing you to go to the bathroom more often than normal. As a result of frequent urination, you end up in a state of state of dehydration. Drinking also messes with your immune system that can trigger acute inflammation and hence give you a throbbing head. Taking ibuprofen may help; don’t take acetaminophen as it further stresses an already stressed liver.

Speaking of the liver, it took a real beating last night too. Being it can only process one drink per hour, it had to work overtime last night while you were sleeping. As far as the nausea, it is basically a withdrawal symptom caused by the sudden decrease in the consumption of alcohol. You may also exhibit shakiness, sweating and anxiety; all typical withdrawal symptoms.

Also, your energy level will be low. While you slept last night, it was not quality sleep as the alcohol your liver was trying to process upset your normal sleep rhythms, thence why you woke up tired.

Exercising When Hungover

Is this something you should do? Absolutely! But with a few cautions. First, you need to get water back into your system before strapping on your workout shoes. Drink some water before starting to exercise and then 7 to 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of working out. Not magic electrolyte or energy drinks that are supposed to cure a hangover, just plain water.

Second, tone down the intensity of your exercising. Yoga, stretching, maybe some light aerobics, walking or swimming can make you feel better without getting you more nauseous. Because your coordination level will be lower than normal avoid lifting heavy weights that can get away from you when in your hungover state and injure you or someone next to you. Also by exercising, the hormone endorphin is released which can help counter your bad mood and lethargy, thereby making you feel better.

And don’t believe all the remedies you read about what to eat or drink to relieve a hangover. Most of them don’t work. Time, water, a cup of coffee and some bland food works the best.

How Many Calories Do You Consume Through Alcohol?

With the holidays fast approaching, the annual parties, get-togethers and big meals will mean consuming more calories. Many of those extra calories are hidden in alcoholic drinks. Just how many? Let’s take a look.

Generally, you’ll consume between 97 to 168 calories per drink depending on the type of drink. Beer varies between 103 to 153 calories per 12 ounce serving depending on if it is of the light variety or not.

Red wine is around 125 calories per 5 ounce serving. Whites are slightly less at 121 calories. Distilled spirits (80 proof) vary from a low of 97 for 1.5 ounces of gin, rum, vodka, whiskey or tequila to a high of 165 for the same amount of a liqueur (because of the sugar). Cocktails start at 112 calories for a daiquiri and top out at 168 for a Margarita. We won’t even talk about Pina Coladas at 490 calories!

The problem with drinking alcohol is two-fold. One, we like to be sociable and this means having something to drink with appetizers while standing around talking before the meal. This means a lot of calories are consumed even before the actual meal starts. Two, the more we drink, the less conscious we become in regard to how many calories we are consuming. Before long we have consumed many more calories than what our body can burn. The excess calories are stored as fat.

Keep in mind that to keep your weight the same, you have to burn as many calories as you take in. To lose weight, you have to burn 3,500 more calories per week (500 per day) that what you consume. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 5 hours of moderate exercise per week to maintain weight or that amount of vigorous exercise per week to lose weight.

Assuming you have a couple servings of wine, you would have to burn off those 250 calories by running at 5 mph for 30 minutes, or walking at a brisk rate for an hour. What is the likelihood of that happening after eating a big meal? Not much.

So the next best thing we do is make weight loss our New Year’s resolution (which in many cases fails shortly after the first of the year). The point is by consuming less calories through alcohol, you’ll have less to burn off to keep your weight the same or to even lose. There are other drink choices you can make that will keep the calorie count down but still allow you to remain sociable.

Should You Exercise When You Have a Cold?

Research has shown that it depends on the type of cold you have as to whether you should exercise or not. If your symptoms are no more than having a runny nose and sneezing, then it is probably O.K. to exercise in moderation.

In one study 24 men and 21 women, ages 18 to 29 with varying levels of fitness, were deliberately infected with the rhinovirus, the common strain responsible for about 1/3 of all colds. All caught head colds and two days later when symptoms were at their worst, they were evaluated while running on treadmills at varying intensities. The results showed no impaired lung function or ability to exercise even though the participants reported feeling tired.

Does exercising speed recovery from having a cold?

To answer this questions, we have to once again to turn to research. In one study on cold symptoms and duration, 34 young men and women infected with the rhinovirus were split into two groups.  One group exercised on treadmills every other day for 40 minutes at 70% of their maximum heart rates; the other half rested. At the end of the study, researchers did not find any appreciable difference in symptoms nor was there any difference in how long symptoms lasted.

What about exercising with fever and chest congestion?

That is a completely different story. If you have a fever and/or chest congestion, you are most likely better off not exercising until those symptoms pass. Why? Because with chest congestion, breathing is hard in the first place. Exercising will just make it harder to get your breath and can actually result in breathing problems.

Plus if you have chest congestion, and are taking decongestants, the medication may have elevated your heart rate, which exercising could elevate it even higher. Knowing this, why take a chance in overtaxing your heart when it is already in a stressed condition. And if you have asthma, forget about it altogether as exercising could trigger an attack.

So based on these two research studies, there isn’t any physiological reason not to exercise if you have just a head cold, even though you may not feel like it. However if you have a fever or chest congestion with your cold, rest until at least those two symptoms pass.

Knowing this can be important especially if you are training for an athletic event and don’t want to interrupt your training program. Be able to determine when and when you shouldn’t train can make the difference of being ready for the event or not.

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