The truth about alcohol’s effect on exercise
1. Your movement skills will be impaired e.g. reaction time, eye-hand coordination, steadiness, balance. This is not the sort of things you want jeopardized if you’re out on the road on your bike for a training ride the night after a bit night out.
2. Alcohol promotes fatigue by increasing lactic acid production. It also dilates blood vessels and diverts blood circulation to the skin and away from working muscles lowering blood supply where it is needed most. This can impair temperature control, increase dehydration further and lead to an even greater risk of hyperthermia (over-heating).
3. Alcohol is a very concentrated source of energy providing 6.6 calories per gram of alcohol and apart from this energy supply it provides little else from a nutritional perspective.
4. Alcohol is a “diuretic” and as such increases fluid (and electrolyte) losses by down regulating the release of the hormone ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) which regulates the body’s fluid balance. Consequently you pee more luring you into the belief that you’re well hydrated, when in fact the opposite is the case.
In short, having a big night out on the booze and then trying to “sweat it out” isn’t the smartest thing in the world to do. Various body systems are adversely affected and trying to hammer out a hard training session with a hangover, in extreme circumstances, can have life-threatening consequences.
(i) keep it gentle
(ii) limit the duration
(iii) watch your hydration before, during and after.
Rod Cedaro holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology and is a co-director of Guy Leech Fitness with more than 25 years experience in exercise science and human conditioning.