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Dear Greatist: Can Exercise Cure Hangovers?

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We love answering the questions we get from our readers via Twitter, Facebook, email, or carrier pigeon. We figure, if one person’s wondering, other people probably are, too. That’s why we’ve started Ask Greatist! Send us your questions anytime, about anything related to health, fitness, or happiness. We’ll answer two each week!

Kristen Jones (@iam_kj) from Twitter wants to know...

Has working out been proven to help with hangovers, or am I imagining things?

Surprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot of data-driven research on hangover cures. (I know, we’re bummed, too.) So the jury is still out on what exactly does and doesn’t ease those pesky pounding headaches. But scientists have come up with a few ideas that can help resolve this quandary.

A big part of the sting some people feel after a night of drinking is due to dehydration [1]. And working out while dehydrated can have serious implications like increased risk for heat stroke and passing out— yikes [2]! But if the classic “drink water” hangover cure isn’t cutting it, a little exercise (after rehydrating, of course) may help boost mood by releasing endorphins, which may lead to “exercise-induced euphoria” and can even alter pain perception [3].

So if you find yourself in the midst of a hangover, plenty of water and some physical activity (don't push too hard, though!) could help chase those symptoms away. Just don’t resort to drinking again— experts agree more alcohol will only do more damage.

Works Cited

  1. The alcohol hangover Wiese, J.G., Shlipak, M.G., Browner, W.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2000 Jun 6;132(11): 897-902.
  2. Dehydration during exercise: what are the real dangers? Noakes, T.D. MRC/UCT Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Cape Town Medical School, South Africa. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 1995;5(2):123-8.
  3. Endorphins and Exercise. Harber, V.J., Sutton, J.R. Sports Medicine. 1984 March-April;1(2):154-71.