Exercise Tips During Your Period
If the thought of working out on your period makes you cringe, you're not alone. Between moodiness, bloating, fatigue, and a general sense of being "over it,” the gym is the last place many people want to be when they're menstruating. With that said, there are a lot of benefits that can come from exercise during this time; the key is picking the right workouts that do the most good for your body. With this in mind, let's dive into some of the things you should know about when it comes to exercising on your period.
Benefits of Exercising During Your Period
Your period can affect you both emotionally and physically—but so can exercise. And here's the thing: the benefits don't stop just because you're on your period. You might need to adjust the types of exercises you do, but your body and mind will still appreciate your efforts. There are a lot of hormonal changes occurring during this time, and the right choices of exercise can help battle the bad stuff and leave you feeling better when it's all said and done. Here are some benefits you might experience if you stick with exercise through this uncomfortable time of the month:
Decreased Belly Bloat
A 2013 study found that regular exercise could improve PMS symptoms, including the unwanted feeling of being bloated. 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise may help reduce the discomfort that comes from bloating. Of course, while you're working out, you'll want to stay hydrated. Contrary to some people's thoughts, drinking lots of water won't contribute to bloating; instead, it helps flush your kidneys and improves your overall hydration, which will make you feel better.
Decreased Symptoms of PMS
Bloating isn't the only symptom of PMS; depression, fatigue, and food cravings often occur during this time of the month, as well. Anything that boosts your heart rate also increases your body's endorphins, which are responsible for boosting pleasure and reducing the feelings of pain. Endorphins can also help eliminate prostaglandins, which are chemicals your body makes during your period that can cause inflammation, muscle contractions, pain, and fever. The more endorphins you release, the less likely you are to suffer severe symptoms of PMS.
Combats Painful Periods
Speaking of PMS and pain, some people experience dysmenorrhea, a condition in which pain is felt in the lower belly, back, or thighs. The pain can range from mild to severe, usually lasting a few days. One form of dysmenorrhea (secondary dysmenorrhea) includes conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, and infection. Light exercises, such as brisk walks, could help decrease these symptoms and leave you feeling more comfortable during your menstruation.
Hormonal changes in the body can increase the feeling of fatigue when you're on your period. Physical activity can bolster energy levels, leaving you feeling less tired and more capable of conquering the challenges that lie ahead. When you're feeling particularly low on energy, that's when you need to hit the gym. While it may sound counterintuitive, your body is telling you it needs you to increase blood circulation and get your heart moving. Once you get over the hump, your efforts will be rewarded with increased energy levels to help you battle that feeling of tiredness.
Minimized General PMS Pain
Even if you don't have to deal with severe cramps and other discomforts during your period, the fact remains that some body aches are a normal part of life for many women and other people. A study in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion found that women who exercised three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes for two months straight experienced minimized pain related to their menstrual cycles. This activity didn't need to be rigorous; just two 15-minute walks a day could make a difference.
Best Exercises to Do on Your Period
As we mentioned, you don't have to enter weightlifting competitions when you're on your period just to reap the rewards of good exercise habits. Keeping it light and just letting your body move can do wonders for your physical health and emotional mood.
Cardio is Better Than Strength Training
Keep your cardiovascular exercise at a lower intensity during your period. Light cardio, such as brisk walking or shorter outs of aerobic exercise, can do wonders for you during this time. Running, biking, and swimming are also great for your mind and body when you're menstruating.
Low-Volume Strength Training Beats Power Training
Because your hormones are on a high during your period, you might experience an increase in strength. Low-volume strength training and power-based activities can work in your favor if you need to get some frustration out and give your body a little love. Consider doing longer flow sessions that involve a mix of cardio and strength work.
Yoga and Pilates for the Win
Yoga and pilates help relax your body, reducing PMS symptoms such as cramping, breast tenderness, and muscular fatigue. Besides the fact that yoga helps boost metabolism and burn fat, it's been shown to release those ever-important endorphins that elevate your mood and discourage the body’s feelings of pain. The stretching from yoga and pilates can help alleviate cramping and bring you back to a more peaceful space within yourself.
Exercises to Avoid on Your Period
Exercising when you're menstruating is an excellent way to bolster endorphins and relax your muscles, but not all exercises are great for this time of the month. Reduce training stress and volume during this time. That doesn't mean you should stop training altogether; instead, pay attention to your body and cut back or try something different that you might not otherwise have tried. Endurance-type training can be challenging when you're on your period, so this might be a great time to look into lighter training methods that focus on shorter workouts that don't take as much energy from your body.