Unfortunately, Exercise Should Probably Be Your Hangover Cure

Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Whether we swear by a big, greasy breakfast after a night of drinking or are on Team Drink All The Water, our search for a true hangover cure continues. Sadly, as two new studies suggest, working out after a night out may be the best thing to counteract some of that alcohol-induced damage, reports The New York Times. Both studies, presented last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, investigated the effects of alcohol followed by exercise. For one study, researchers at the University of Louisville gave male mice daily doses of either alcohol or saline for 12 weeks. Then, the mice ran on a treadmill every day for another 12 weeks. According to their results, the brains of mice that had received alcohol showed impaired mitochondria — but not among those mice that had also exercised. The other study, performed by a team at the University of Houston, followed a similar design but looked at these effects in female rats. Here, the researchers gave half of the rats alcohol once per week for 11 weeks, mimicking a binge-drinking type of scenario. After that, all the rats either got the chance to run on a treadmill three days per week or just had to sit around in their cages. As in the first study, rats that drank alcohol didn't perform as well on memory tasks and had fewer neurons in a key memory-related brain area. But those rats that got to exercise — regardless of whether or not they had also consumed alcohol — didn't show the same impairments. Of course, these are mice and rats — not humans. That means we don't really know how well these results translate to our lives. But there is a fair amount of other evidence suggesting that working out can encourage the formation of new neurons (a process called neurogenesis). And there's plenty of other evidence to show that alcohol does the opposite. In that way, at least, exercise seems like it could counteract some of the less pleasant effects of booze. So it's probably not too much of a stretch to say that working out in the days after you drink could be especially beneficial. And, as long as you're not feeling too gross, it won't hurt. However, whether or not a run is more effective than the classic bacon, egg, and cheese remains a question for future rigorous research.

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