It is that time of the month, and it is starting to sound like a good idea to lay in bed all day sulking about periods, tolerating those horrible cramps, and dealing with bloating thinking is going to the gym even worth it? Is it safe? OR should you hold off on your workout until it’s over? Let’s look at why exercising while you’re on your period is a good idea and how to get the most out of your workouts.
Can I exercise while I'm on my period?
During the first few days of the period, it can be rough. Feeling moody, uncomfortable, and in pain can make it seem like exercise is not worth a minute. However, working out can help you mitigate the symptoms. You can work out on your period, and as long as you can, you should exercise during this time.
It is recommended that coaches working with sportswomen should consider the menstrual cycle and be aware of any possible times across the cycle where exercise performance might be reduced (early follicular phase – the first day) or enhanced (all other phases. Additionally, this should be tailored to and explained to each individual athlete (McNulty, 2020). That means you can take advantage of the state of your body so that you get the most out of your training.
The Benefits of Training Throughout Your Cycle
There are many mental and physical advantages to working out during your period. Here are a few:
Improving Bloating is the most common symptom women experience during their period, unfortunately(and annoying). Doing regular aerobic exercise may help to combat PMS symptoms, including bloating.
Improving Sleep is one of the benefits of exercise in general. However, some women find it hard to get quality sleep during their period. This is where training can help.
Decrease PMS Symptoms is a common goal for women. Fatigue and mood swings are common, which can be improved through exercise. When you are super tired, exercise might be the last thing you think of, but working out can help you feel more energized. The same goes for mood swings. If you find yourself feeling down and you have not been working out, hit the gym. You will feel like your old self again afterward.
Getting That Endorphin High is one of the best feelings from working out. Anyone that has had a great workout will leave the gym in the head heald high swag attitude. Exercising can release endorphins, and they make you feel better. Beta-endorphins are also natural pain killers, and these neuropeptides can help manage the pain during your period.
More Significant Gains in Strength and Power is an interesting part of the period. The hormones estrogen and progesterone are lower during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. Therefore, you could see some gains in strength and power.
Don’t Over Do It
If you are of the more is always better mindset, it could be to just go after it like every workout. You can still do any training you usually would do during your period, but that does not mean it is the best idea. There are some less intensive exercises you can do and still get the most out of your workout during this time.
Let’s say you are into strength training; you could lower the volume of your power-based activities in your workout regime. Remember, in the first two weeks of your cycle, the female hormones in your system are lower. This means you have a great potential to increase your strength during this time frame.
During the first few days of your period, the intensity and duration of aerobic and cardio exercises you take on. This could be a great time incorporating pilates, yoga, and stretching into your workout flow. All three activities can help mitigate some of the uncomfortable symptoms, like ramps, muscular fatigue, and even help with relaxing.
Which Exercises Should You Avoid While On Your Period?
This is a question with no one answer. Everyone is different regarding which exercises they may and may not want to do while on their period. Many women find it easy to continue with their regular exercise routine during their entire cycle, and others might not. You have to respect your body and take time to understand where your line is. Don’t just stop exercising while you’re on your period; find ways to cut back as needed. You can do more harm than good if you push yourself too hard if your body is already experiencing the additional stress associated with menstruating cycling.
McNulty, K. L., Elliott-Sale, K. J., Dolan, E., Swinton, P. A., Ansdell, P., Goodall, S., Thomas, K., & Hicks, K. M. (2020). The Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Exercise Performance in Eumenorrheic Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 50(10), 1813–1827. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01319-3