No matter how much fun you had last night, it's time to put down the Pedialyte and pump some iron. Breaking a sweat that smells of ethanol may be the last thing you want to do right now, but it's actually a pretty decent hangover hack.
Science says so: A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that moderate-to-intense exercise may offset some of the negative effects of imbibing. The damage of binge-drinking includes "slower reaction times, decreased coordination, decreased testosterone levels, impaired recovery and metabolism, and depressed mood," says Trevor Rappa, a doctor of physical therapy and cofounder of Resilient Performance Physical Therapy in New York.
"To combat these effects, a workout circuit of compound movements can drive blood to larger muscle groups, increasing your metabolism and releasing endorphins to help improve your mood," he explains. It won't undo the over-indulging, but it could help you feel better.
Now is not the time, however, to take your first HIIT class. "Your ability to train at high intensity after alcohol consumption is limited. Fatigue happens faster [when you're hungover], so don't expect to be able to train at your normal level," he warns. Instead aim for a low- to moderate-intensity workout—your groggy body will thank you. "The goal should be to elevate your heart rate and promote blood flow throughout," he says.
Try this quick and easy circuit from Rappa to get your heart pumping and body semi-functioning enough to survive the morning. You won't need to leave the comfort of your bedroom.
Perform 8 to 10 reps per exercise for 3 to 5 rounds with 30 seconds rest between each move. Take 90-second breaks between each round. For weighted exercises, don't go too heavy. Lift whatever you can handle for at least 10 reps, even if you only do 8. If you don't have weights, try a 2-2 tempo, where you hold it for two seconds on either side of each movement. Push Ups Get into plank position, tightening your core and glutes throughout the move. Lower your body to the floor, staying stiff from your ankles to shoulders. Resist the urge to stay down there (splayed on the floor, wallowing in hangover hell). Straighten your arms to raise your body as a unit to a locked elbow. For more of a challenge—unlikely, we know—try Spiderman Push-Ups, touching your right knee to your right elbow as you lower your body. Repeat on the left side.
See-Saw Lunges Stand tall, holding dumbbells if you have them, on either side. Keeping your left foot firmly planted, step back with your right leg into a reverse lunge. Then spring into a forward lunge with the same leg to complete one rep. Do all reps on one side before switching legs. Engage your core for balance and maybe keep a hand on the back of a chair for extra support if you're feeling shaky.
Goblet Squat Holding a kettlebell if you have one, squat as low as you can with a neutral spine. Keep your feet flat and core engaged throughout the move. This will allow you to push into the floor as you stand up.
Backwards Bear Crawl Start on your hands and knees on the floor. Lift your knees an inch or so, and use each hands to drive your body in your reverse, stepping back with the opposite foot. Maintain your back parallel to the ground. Don't let your body sway too much from side-to-side as you move backwards. Perform in a slow, controlled motion.