For many women, their monthly menstrual cycle means a week of fatigue, headaches, food cravings, and well, just feeling crummy. It’s no surprise that most women don’t want to hit the gym during their period. But did you know that a bit of exercise can be just the right medicine to actually help you have a healthier period? Find out why you don’t want to skip out on exercise during your period.
Benefits of Exercising on Your Period
Aside from just keeping you on track to meet your fitness goals, exercise can bring relief from many menstrual complaints. So before you decide to hit pause on your workout routine, check out these benefits of exercise during your period.
Relieve Painful PMS Symptoms
At least 80-90% of women experience some kind of PMS. Sadly, some women experience a severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Studies show that exercise is one of the simplest non-pharmacological treatments for premenstrual syndrome. Women report a decrease in symptoms when they participate in regular light exercise.
Exercise increases endorphin levels in the brain. It’s these hormones that help stabilize mood and give that sensation of uplift following a workout. Not only that, but studies show that exercise can improve various other aspects, such as self-esteem, perceived vitality, general well-being, and satisfaction with physical appearance. Evidence also indicates that regular physical activity may protect against the development of depression. In fact, physical inactivity might even be a risk factor for depression.
So if you struggle with the blues during your period, force yourself to get up off the couch and commit to at least 15 minutes of moderate exercise. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Boost Energy Levels
It’s no secret that a bit of exercise can fight fatigue and leave you feeling energized. This is especially true during your period, when you probably tend to feel the most blah. A quick jog or 15 minutes of focused stretching may be just what you need to boost your energy and lift your spirits.
The Best Exercise During Your Period
If you already have a regular exercise routine, you may be able to stick to your plan during your period. However, some women prefer a lower impact workout during that time of the month. Begin by focusing on gentle movements and exercises. If your workouts include a lot of intense cardio, you may consider dialing it down just a bit. Then again, some women run marathons with Aunt Flo. Just remember to listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
With that said, some exercise tends to be more nurturing and gentle on the body and may be more suited during your period.
Take a Walk
You will reap many of the benefits of exercising on your period by simply getting outside and taking a walk. Not only does the rhythmic movement of walking provide all the benefits described above, the fresh air can do a lot of good too. Plus, walking stimulates the lymphatic system to improve immunity and overall health. A brisk 15-30 minute walk is a great place to get started implementing exercise into your daily routine.
Yoga and Pilates
Deep stretching exercises, like yoga, can help relax your body and potentially reduce PMS symptoms. In fact, a small study of 72 participants discovered that women who engaged in yoga for 40 minutes three times a week experienced noticeably less pain and other PMS symptoms.
As with any other exercise regimen, it’s important to start slow. With practice you will increase your flexibility, balance, and endurance.
Low-Volume Strength Training
Due to hormone fluctuations during menstruation, many women find increased strength during their periods. Use this to your advantage and engage in some resistance or weight training. Alternating strength work and cardio is an even better way to nurture your body.
You may be thinking, “but what about leakage?” Especially if you have a heavy flow, this is a very valid concern. Ordinary pads, tampons and other period supplies sometimes just don’t cut it when it comes to getting active while on your period.
That’s why I’m so excited that Thinx just launched a line of period activewear. Choose from Leggings, Cycle Shorts, Training Shorts, and Leotard. In sizes from XS to XL, you’ll find the style that suits your body shape and preferred exercise method.
I love wearing Thinx period underwear as an added method of protection and peace of mind. Learn more about my experience and find out why I love Thinx in this post. Want to try them for yourself? Use this link to get a $10 off!
The Bottom Line
As with all health and wellness decisions, the choice is yours. Given the overall health benefits of exercise—and the relatively low risk of side effects—consider using exercise to help manage menstrual pain.