“Should I exercise while on my periods?” Well, this is a million dollar question many women ask themselves. During your cycle, you may feel as though you just want to sit on your couch and do absolutely nothing. But what your body needs is exactly the opposite.
To answer your question, yes, you should work out during your period. If you feel fine, then there is no reason why you can’t workout as usual. Your period should not hamper your performance. But if you have cramps and discomfort, you should listen to your body.
Avoid high intensity or any exercises that will put too much stress on your body. Choose moderate to light intensity activities instead. Try Pilates or yoga that will help you to relax and stretch your entire body. Go for brisk walking, easy cycling, dancing or even swimming. It’s necessary that you got to push yourself and do some gentle exercises.
Reasons for Exercising
Elevates Your Mood
Mood swings vary with each. You might experience anything from debilitating anxiety to minor depression. In any case, it’s relatively common to experience this shift in attitude. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, they interact with the receptors in your brain, which reduce your perception of pain. Exercise also increases positive feelings.
Eases Menstrual Cramps
Exercise boosts your blood circulation, which reduces the severity of cramps. Stress makes your menstrual cramps even worse, and exercise is a natural stress buster.
Pain related to mensuration is known as dysmenorrhea. The pain is usually due to increased levels of hormones called prostaglandins. They trigger contractions in your uterine and intestinal wall.
According to a study by Iranian researchers, published in the “Journal of Research in Health Science” in 2006, exercise helps reduce the duration and severity of primary dysmenorrhea in high school girls. It also significantly reduced the use of sedative medicines.
“People who live a more sedentary lifestyle tend to have more sluggish digestive systems,” Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica tells Women’s Health.
Working out helps you to keep regular and reduce constipation. Light exercises are just fine during your period because high-intensity workouts like CrossFit promotes inflammation which adds to the bloat.
Most women with pre-menstrual syndrome experience a drop in their serotonin levels; this trigger craving for carbs because your body needs carbs to make serotonin.
Any physical activity from swimming to running will raise your serotonin levels and lower cortisol levels. Most experts advise you to work out for 30 minutes 4 to 6 times a week.
If you sweat a lot, you’ll expel water and feel less bloated. Moreover, working out dissipates your anger which is common during your periods. Research says that mind-body activities such as yoga and tai-chi help to calm you down.
Increased Power, Muscle Mass, and Strength
Researchers say that opting out of your workouts during the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle, means you might miss out on some serious fitness gains. Training during this period can give you greater power, muscle mass, and strength than any other time of the month says a study from Sweden.
Fifty-nine women (some who were taking oral contraceptives) participated in the research mentioned above study that assessed resistance training influence on strength, power and muscle mass.
The result showed that women who worked out during the first two weeks of their menstrual cycle experienced a considerable boost in jump height and maximum power output of their hamstrings.
These women also increased lean body mass in their legs. As for women who trained during the second half of their cycle didn’t see the same improvements.
Reduces Fluid Retention
One of the major inconvenience during your period is that it makes you retain fluid, which causes a general feeling of heaviness. If you exercise and train continuously, this process will occur to a lesser degree and helps you to be more comfortable.
Exercise in any form can act as a stress reliever. During your periods you may feel weak due to the hormonal changes taking place in your body. Exercise pumps up your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. These endorphins are natural painkillers and mood elevators. It reduces your body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
You can also do “muscular meditation” (using your large muscles in a repetitive rhythmic fashion) to reduces stress. Walking and jogging are the primary examples; even a mere 20-minute stroll can clear your mind and reduce stress.
Light Exercises During Your Period
Experts agree that walking gets you moving without injury or danger. So, put on your sneakers and sunblock and hit the road.
Avoid heavy weightlifting and other strenuous exercises during mensuration. Your vaginal muscles are flaccid during these days, and they are unable to withstand any strain.
“You may suffer worse than average pain if you go for any heavy workout. Other problems that may arise due to heavy exercise during menses are cramps, infertility issues, shorter cycles, and infections, as staining will occur,” writes Azma Kulsoom, Author of pregnanteve.com in Quora.com.
Regular brisk walking helps you:
- To maintain a healthy weight
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Improves your balance and coordination
- Improves your mood
- Prevents or manages various conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
As a rule, you must aim for at least 30 minutes of walking, a day. If you can’t set aside so much time, try several 10-minute sessions throughout the day.
Pilates is a type of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility, muscular strength and endurance movements. It emphasizes proper postural alignment, muscle balance, and core strength.
By practicing Pilates regularly, you can gain number of health benefits, including:
- Improved flexibility
- Improved posture and balance
- Improved core strength and stability
- Prevention and treatment of back pain
Whether you’re suffering from pre-menstrual or menstrual symptoms, you can get quick relief by making these three moves.
Pilate lunges stimulate your blood flow into the larger muscle groups. It draws your attention to the periphery of the body rather than the center which is the source of monthly cramps.
Additionally, when you target the larger muscle groups, you’ll increase your metabolism and energy combating fatigue, which shows up during your periods.
Side bends are potent upper body strengthener and waist whittler. During your monthly flow when you aren’t comfortable lying on your stomach or chest down, these exercises gently work out your body. During your period’s abdominal moves that target your rectus may be uncomfortable. Instead, you can focus on your obliques with Side Bend.
Rolling Down The Wall
Rolling down the wall exercise will ease your low back pain that accompanies during your period. It does so by relaxing your tight back muscles and restoring symmetry. When you get back pain, your muscles get stiffened. You can perform this wall exercise any time of the day, to offset any monthly ack soreness.
Yoga is a good option while you are in your period provided it is very customizable. Many yogic poses have options to match your skill level. The following poses are intended for restorative home practice. These asanas help to alleviate your cramps.
- Cobbler’s Pose – Baddha Konasana
- Head to Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana
- Seated Straddle – Upavistha Konasana
- Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana
- Supported Bridge Pose
- Goddess Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana
There are some moves that you should avoid during your periods. These moves fall under the umbrella term “inverted poses.” “It all comes down to a scientific theory called vascular congestion in the uterus, which results in excessive menstrual flow,” Greg Justice, certified personal trainer, exercise physiologist, and author of Mind Your Fitness tells Women’s Health.
If you are menstruating, then honor your body by avoiding these moves
- Bharadwaj’s twist
- Boat Pose
- Feathered peacock poses
- Heron poses
- Legs up the wall pose
- Plough Pose
- Supported headstand
- Supported shoulder stand
- Upper abdominal lock
Jogging during your period can help to reduce some of your worst PMS symptoms and is completely healthy. While you may feel that you have less endurance during your period, continue the good sport, and you’ll soon be back to your usual self.
Jogging while in your period is a healthy way to stay in shape. It helps to reduce your cramps, fatigue, and irritability and makes your time more bearable. While you may still jog daily, you may choose an easier route. Or you may jog for a shorter span of time to make up for the lack of motor control and to manage your fatigue.
Once you know how jogging affects your period, you can plan for problems like cramps, or irritability during your run such as taking Ibuprofen 30 minutes before your run. Hydrate well before, during and after your run because some researchers say that you dehydrate more on your periods.
Though dancing isn’t an exercise in the traditional sense, it will pump up your heart rate and burn some calories. The benefits of dancing include:
- Improved mental wellbeing
- Increased aerobic fitness
- Improved muscle tone
- Increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- Better co-ordination, agility, and flexibility
- Improved balance and spatial awareness.
Make some beginner moves while on your period. When you want to feel extra fresh, take a bath before your class. Harsh chemicals may mess up with your feminine balance, so use gentle cleansers to get the job done.
Keep your dance bag piled up with the feminine product of your choice. Make sure your dancewear is clean. To reduce the chance of discoloring your dancewear, opt for black clothing. You can also do a dance workout in the comfort of your home. All depends on your body condition.
If you suffer from cramps and other discomforts take an OTC for pain management. Mint and ginger lozenges are also attractive alternatives to soothe your stomach. Lay off caffeine and drink plenty of water.
Planking is a great exercise to do during your periods. Lie on the floor straight with your arms and elbows tucked under your chest. Gently lift yourself up using your toes, and forearms and hold the pose.
Repeat this exercise at regular intervals; this is an excellent way to give your whole body, an intensive workout during your periods.
Planking will develop your inner core muscles. When your abdominal muscles grow stronger, your midsection will get tightened. Planks work best for back pain because they strengthen your core muscles. Lower back pain can affect your performance during your period.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE)
“Because the plank exercise requires minimal movement while contracting all layers of the abdominal fascia, it is an excellent way to strengthen the core, which, in turn, helps reduce low-back pain.”
Planks increase your flexibility and improve your mood, posture, and balance.
“Quiescent activities like meditation and tai chi can help manage your emotions and maintain the free flow of qi in the body.” Kathleen Funk of Acufunkture tells SheKnows.com
Tai chi described as “meditation in motion” promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements. Originally developed for self-defense taichi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that you can use for stress reduction and a variety of other conditions.
Some benefits of Tai chi include
- Better mood with lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression
- Enhanced energy and stamina
- Greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength
- Reduced inflammation
- Fewer falls
- Lowers blood pressure and improves heart health
- Improved flexibility, agility and balance
By practicing Tai chi during your periods, you not only give a gentle workout to your body but also enjoy a relaxed state of mind.
Being a woman should never keep you from your goals. Preparing yourself for your cycle helps you to be active in your flow.
Take paracetamol 30 minutes before you begin your regime. It’s a good idea to change your feminine protection before you start working out.
If you’re feeling self-conscious, wear dark colors or add extra layer-like shorts over your leggings for extra peace of mind.
Your abilities may be different during your menstrual cycle, so switch to lower paced activities which we’ve discussed so far.
Drink at least two liters of water each day because, during your period, you need to push everything out and keep your digestive system functioning as normally as possible.
Take it easy if you feel like you can’t work out, don’t push yourself. Eat right, get plenty of rest and go out for a walk to get some fresh air. If your uterus is telling you to rest for a day, she’s probably right, so don’t feel guilty of skipping out.