Is It Safe to Work Out After Drinking at Happy Hour?

Does just one drink alter your ability to workout?

Balancing fitness and fun isn’t always easy. Most of us have met up with friends for a quick drink or two after work only to remember mid-margarita that we had plans to hop on the treadmill. While you may feel fully functional after one or two cocktails, is it really wise to head to the gym after you’ve been drinking? We went straight to an expert to find out.

Alcohol slows down your reflexes and impairs your balance and hand-eye coordination,” said Dr. Debra Brooks MD, Northwell-GoHealth Urgent Care, “If you workout after drinking, your workout will not be fruitful and since liquor is a diuretic it may also lead to dehydration.” Dehydration can occur because alcohol interferes with the production of the antidiuretic hormone—arginine vasopressin. Working out while dehydrated can lead to dizziness, fainting, and muscle cramps, as well as even more serious symptoms.

Still not convinced?

aaptiv beers to burpees infographic

Here are three more reasons to avoid drinking and working out:

The water factor

Your kidneys work to keep the right amount of water present in your body so you stay propely hydrated. However, if you load up on alcohol, your kidneys switch focus to filtering out that gin and tonic. This leads to a greater risk of dehydration.

One and done

Even if you have convinced yourself that one drink isn’t the worse thing you could do prior to going to the gym, there are other issues to consider in addition to dehydration. One major issue is loss of balance. “Depending on how your own body responds, just one alcoholic drink can affect your brain and muscle function, leading to higher risk of injury while exercising, “ says Dr. Brooks. In a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical studies & Experimental Research it was found that even moderate drinkers were more prone to getting hurt than non-drinkers.

Timing is everything

If you insist on working out after drinking, our expert stresses that there should be a buffer of time between your cocktail and your workout. “If you’ve only had one drink, one hour is enough time to wait before working out. After two drinks, you should wait two to two and a half hours,” says Brooks. If you have had two or more you should plan your workout for another day.

Whether you’re recovering from happy hour or swapping the bar for burpees, Aaptiv has hundreds of trainer-led workouts to get you sweating. Take our fitness quiz here.



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