Why hill walking is the ultimate hangover cure

Posted by Hanna Lindon on 01/01/2016
If anything can cure a hangover, it's views like this one. Photo by Stewart Smith Photography/ Shutterstock.

Happy New Year you brilliant BMC bunch! Oh, what’s that? Feeling a tad worse for wear this morning? Get out from underneath that duvet - we’ve got the answer to New Year’s Eve overindulgence right here…

Ouch. That last Jägerbomb might have seemed like a grand idea last night when your local boozer was rocking to the strains of Auld Lang Syne - but now all those nasty little toxins are having an after-party in your liver, and you’ve got the shakes to prove it. All you want to do is bung your head under the pillow, wait for your mum/ other half/ bemused child to take pity and fetch a glass of water, and generally while away the bulk of New Year’s Day in a haze of shakiness, nausea and misery.

That’s one option. The other is to sling a waterproof layer over your pajamas, lace up your walking boots and get out into the hills. Yup, it might be the last thing you feel like doing, but trust us: hill walking beats Alka Seltzer, fry-ups and lounging in bed hands down when it comes to hustling away a hangover. Feeling doubtful? Let us convince you…

Fresh air is a hangover beater. Even the scientists say so. It isn’t just that cooling breeze on your hot cheeks - oxygen actually increases the rate that alcohol toxins are broken down, which is why slobbing about in a CO2-filled bedroom will only make you feel worse. Wrap up warm, breathe deeply, and your abused liver will feel the benefit.  

Exercise helps as well. But it’s got to be the right kind of exercise. Anything too high-intensity (fell runners, take note) could exacerbate your nausea and dehydration leading to dizziness, sickness and a thumping headache. On the other hand, a casual stroll won’t be strenuous enough to boost your metabolism and start seeing off those toxins. The perfect compromise? Yes, you guessed it: hit the hills. Just make sure you take double the amount of water and continue glugging away at it throughout.  

The views are good for your liver. Bet you’ve never heard that one before, but it’s sort of true. Our best natural defences against the effects of hangover are endorphins - those mood-boosting chemicals that reduce the perception of pain and relieve stress. Nothing gets the endorphins pumping like a pleasure rush - and a knockout view, for those of us who appreciate these things, is sure to deliver the goods.

Bye-bye emotional hangover. For many of us, the worst bit of a hangover isn’t the sickness or the headache. It’s the emotional comedown of the morning after, coupled with that niggling voice whispering that no, you probably shouldn’t have grabbed a mic from the band and delivered a blurry rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ from atop the grand piano. Endorphins will help with both of these after-effects, combating the depressive effect of alcohol and convincing you that perhaps your karaoke voice isn’t as bad as all that.

The hills don’t care if you’re grumpy. They do say that hell is other people - and never is that truer than when a hangover hits. If you’ve got Auntie Muriel staying for the festive season then the prospect of entertaining her over breakfast could just tip you over the edge (of the toilet bowl). Ditto for containing a bunch of fractious, heavy-eyed kids who probably shouldn’t have been allowed to stay up so late the night before. Getting out hill walking is the perfect excuse for escaping hungover socialising. And if Auntie Muriel decides to join you? Well, at least the fresh air will help counteract her conversation.  

There’s no better way to greet the New Year. You’ve got a precious extra day off work at the darkest time of the year, and who wants to spend it lounging in bed when there are summits to be bagged? This probably isn’t the best time to push your limits with a challenging scramble, but it’s the perfect opportunity to get out there, shed the cobwebs and start 2016 as you mean to go on.    

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