It's Sunday morning; you’ve had a great night last night, but have drunk a little more than you had anticipated. A feeling many of us know oh too well – groggy, tired eyes and a lingering headache.
Thousands of people will wake up feeling like this (particularly after the FA Cup final with many of the 88,000 people in attendance looking like they had a little too much to drink).
So what to do about it? Some people will use this negative feeling to give them a kick up the bum to get to the gym/go for a run. This is a classic 'you need to punish yourself for a big night out' (or a cheat day). But, is this really the best thing to do for your body? To answer that question, let's have a look at what alcohol does to you (although I am sure many of you are well versed in this already).
Most obviously, alcohol dehydrates your body as it is a powerful diuretic – thus it causes electrolyte imbalances and dehydration throughout the body. So when a person is dehydrated recovery is poor and one has a far great risk of muscle cramps/strains.
It also affects your muscle recovery. Getting enough rest is vital for building bigger and stronger muscles. Drinking causes problems with your sleep patterns - a big problem when it comes to the release of a chemical in the body called Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH has an integral role in building and repairing muscle, and alcohol can reduce the secretion of this by up to 70%, along with reducing testosterone levels and protein synthesis. So a decrease in both these markers would imply a decrease in muscle recovery.
I’m sure many of you knew that already. But really, how does this affect you the day after a drinking session?
Here’s the really interesting bit – the bit that shows how our body and mind is really doing. There is a lot of information on the negatives of drinking and that is because it is easy to endorse studies that state the obvious. But if, like me after a couple (then maybe a couple more) of drinks you wake up and feel a bit groggy but nothing outrageous the best thing for me is to hit the gym. Not because I want to punish myself for having fun on a Saturday night, because for me, that is the thing that kicks my day back into gear. It helps me to re-set, de stress and focus on what I have to for the coming week or the rest of my day.
Surely that is a positive? It is very easy to fall into the trap of ‘clean eating’ all week then have a huge blow out on the weekend but is that sustainable and is that a good cycle to be in? I’d be inclined to say probably not.
So if, for you the gym is a place you enjoy and find it relaxing and a positive environment then get over there. If however you are trying to punish yourself then don’t put yourself through it. Do something you enjoy, something that makes you feel better and something that helps you feel re-set and energized. Whether that is reading a book doing the gardening etc.
All in all do as The Rock says – ‘Find your anchor!’ get set for the upcoming week and do something that actually makes you feel good. Because if you don’t make time for it, no one else will do it for you; so today take sometime to look after number one (you) even if it is only for an hour or two. You will feel all the better for it.