It’s very likely you feel low on energy and knocked out the first day of your period. And it’s even more likely that you don’t really feel like doing any physical activity at all. But did you know that exercise during your period can help release menstrual cramps, combat mood swings and help with PMS? It might also be the solution to a menstrual block or just what you need to regulate irregular periods naturally.
Trust us, it’s totally worth to get your lovely behind off the sofa and moving while you’re menstruating. Stick with this blog post to find out how you can best reap the benefits from doing exercise during your period. (Spoiler: once you see how it can increase your well-being, you won’t want to have a period without any physical activity.)
4 benefits of exercising during your period
First of all, the good news: so far no study has found negative effects or health risks from working out during your period. In fact, a study done at the Umeå University, Sweden, has shown that training the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (each cycle starts with the first day of your period) actually optimizes your results: “Training during the first two weeks of the cycle is more beneficial to optimize resistance training, than the last two weeks.”
That should clear all excuses off the table, so let’s take a closer look at the actual benefits of exercise during your period:
1) Boost your mood and combat PMS
How bad PMS and mood swings hit you varies from each individual. It can range from experiencing debilitating anxiety to minor depression. Some might not feel any mood changes, others might have an inexplicable feeling of being down some days before or during the first days of your period.
In any case, it’s very common to experience this shift in mood due to hormones. And since it’s normal, don’t let that put you off. Rather get your body moving and some endorphins (amongst other things) flowing: “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine”
Studies have proved that people experiencing depression benefit from exercise as it decreases levels of depression and boosts the mood. So why not apply that to the to battle the pre-period blues?
2) Enhance blood circulation and ease menstrual cramps
As mentioned above, the endorphins released during workout reduce the perception of pain. Exercising is also known for reducing your levels of stress and anxiety. Did you know that stress increases menstrual cramps?
So exercising will release your stress levels naturally, which can then reduce the severity of your menstrual cramps. It will also get your circulation going which will help reduce the cramps.
3) Exercising beats fatigue and headaches
When you feel particularly low on energy but can’t sleep either, the best thing to do is to move. It’s when you really don’t feel like working out, that you really should do it.
The first 10 minutes will be hard, but once you get moving it will strengthen blood circulation and activate your heart muscles. This will result in higher energy levels and help you beat the tiredness. Scientists have actually proved that when you feel down, it’s best to do exercise to feel more energised and awake.
Still and especially during the first days of your period, your body needs more rest and sleep. So make sure that you combine the exercise with also giving your body time to rest.
4) Regulate irregular periods naturally
If you have irregular periods or your period is overdue, physical activity can help your menstrual cycle get back on track. Be particularly active the days before you expect your period to come and pair it with a healthy diet. There are some fruits and herbs that act as emmenagogues and can help kickstart a late or irregular period. Try to eat some pineapples, papaya and parsley. Combine those with regular exercise the days before your period.
What exercise is best during your period?
It doesn’t have to be a hardcore cardio workout to experience the benefits of working out during your period. Simply a walk in the park or a couple of jumping jacks in your living room are also fine. The key experience of any of the above-mentioned benefits is to literally do any kind of exercise.
So the first step is to find out what you feel like doing. If you’ve got particularly strong menstrual cramps or are feeling down, it’s not very likely you’ll have the mental and physical strength to push yourself through a 10k run.
Be realistic with yourself. It can take a bit of a push to get started, but if you listen to your body you’ll know if you feel like running a couple of miles or much rather need some menstrual cramp-relieving yoga stretches.
Here are 3 types of exercises you can choose from that are recommended to do during your period:
Light cardio workout
Do anything from taking a walk while listening to a podcast to a non-stressful jog around the park. Choose one of your favourite exercises. You don’t want to go for a super challenging workout routine or for a difficult routine you’ve never tried before.
Easy exercises you can do at home
You might not feel like going to the gym during your period, which is completely fine. But don’t let that stop you from exercising.
Here’s a simple 10 minute easy to do at home workout video that will energize you, release tension and leave you feeling proud and happy that you managed to complete a workout session.
Is there any exercise you should avoid during menstruation?
As mentioned in the first part of this blog post, there have been found no negative consequences from doing some exercise during your period.
But there is a constant debate going on about inverted yoga poses and menstruation. The party arguing against inverted yoga poses during your period, believe that standing on your head may engorge your blood vessels in your uterus, which can lead to more period flow and more cramps.
But recent studies have shown that there is no grounds to back up any theories of negative effects. Nowadays it is more commonly believed that this may only be the case if you hold this particular pose for a very long time.
Exercise during your period: 3 extra tips for a pleasant experience
Adjust Your Training Plan
If you work out regularly and don’t want to loose a training day that’s fine. Be sure to adjust your training plan and work with your menstrual cycle, not against it.
Use a menstrual product that makes you feel comfortable
Feeling self-conscious because of the period product you’re using can often stop you from doing what you want to do during your period.
Maybe you’re afraid of a leaking (sweating + heavy periods is almost a guarantee for stains), or of an unpleasant smell. Since many pads are made of synthetic fabric, you will sweat even more. And it’s normal that once blood comes in contact with oxygen it starts to oxidate which leads to the blood emitting a scent.
Also doing squats during your period are pretty infamous. It can create leaks or push the tampon out a little, because you’re actually working some muscles – also the pelvic floor muscles. That’s why menstrual cups are so great – because of the slight suction formed, it does not just pop out or wring itself out when you work out hard.
Work with your menstrual cycle
You can’t go full power every day of the month. Your menstrual cycle simply won’t let you. But that doesn’t mean that you’re missing out or have to suffer from it. Much rather use the different phases for different activities.
For instance, go full power and try new workout routines around ovulation and remember to go slow the days before and during your period.
If you feel like working out during your period there is nothing that should stop you. Also use physical activity to combat period problems such as PMS, menstrual cramps or tiredness. They key is to simply get moving in a way that releases endorphins and increases your well-being.
Let us know in the comments how you handle menstruation during your workout and if you feel that it helps you combat your period problems.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a medical or health professional. The purpose of this blog is informative and to share an experience – not to give health or medical advice. You should always do your own research when it comes to your health.