According to the OWH there are no restrictions on what exercises people do while on their periods.
A person should always take measures to exercise safely. This may include wearing protective equipment and refraining from lifting excessively heavy weights without a spotter or support.
Exercise Can Relieve The Symptoms Of Your Period Through A Few Different Ways:
- The sweat released during a workout removes water from your body, including the water in your belly that you feel as part of your period bloat. Bye bye bloatedness!
- Exercise promotes the release of endorphins. These “happy hormones” may distract you from the period discomfort you are feeling, while also combating the moodiness sometimes (frequently) associated with your period or with PMSing. The movement will also help combat sensations of fatigue and exhaustion associated with your period, and in general.
- Exercise is known to reduce stress and stress is known to sometimes amplify period cramps. So, by using exercise as a means of stress relief, you will be able alleviate some cramping
- The increased blood flow can also help ease menstrual cramps
TRAINING AND EXERCISE DURING Periods
WHAT ARE THE PHASES OF YOUR CYCLE?
Your menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends when your next period begins. Usually, this is 28 days, but it can vary. Within your cycle, there are three phases: the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase.
The follicular phase
The is the time between the first day of your period and ovulation.
This is halfway through your cycle when an egg is released from the ovary.
The luteal phase
This is the time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation, where your body prepares for a possible pregnancy.
Each phase is fueled by hormones – four in particular. In the early stages of your cycle, it is a hormone known as the follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) that tells your ovaries to prepare and produce the egg-containing follicles. These follicles then produce the second hormone, estrogen, which rebuilds the lining of the uterus. Once the follicles are big enough and produce enough estrogen, the third hormone – luteinizing hormone (LH) – is produced. This releases the egg which causes ovulation. In this final phase, the follicle that contained the egg begins to produce the fourth hormone, progesterone. It is progesterone that helps prepare your uterus for a possible pregnancy.
HOW TO TRAIN ACROSS THE PHASES OF YOUR CYCLE
Early follicular phase
At the beginning of your cycle, while you are menstruating, your menstrual hormones are low. You may be dealing with symptoms like inflammation, pain and a good dose of lethargy. This is when you might want to be kind to yourself and train in a way that really nurtures your body and mind. A focus on recovery is often a good idea, as you want to avoid stresses which may trigger autoimmune responses. Nutritionally, make sure you get sufficient iron (as iron is lost when we lose blood) and choose meals with anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants, such as salmon and green leafy or cruciferous vegetables. Slow-burning carbs like oats, legumes and pulses, and quality proteins can help here too.
Mid follicular phase
As the follicular phase progresses, estrogen starts to rise. This is when your energy levels may start to pick up and some find a higher pain tolerance. Some women find this can be the perfect time to train harder and push through high-intensity workouts and strength training. For some, strength training doesn’t only feel better in this phase, it might be even more effective because of the increased estrogen levels.
Les Mills presenter Kaylah Blayr usually feels real strong in the second week of her cycle and uses it to her advantage. “I plan to train heavy with my weights and I add in more to my workout sessions because I have the energy and it feels right. Sometimes, if I am feeling great later in the day, I will add a LES MILLS GRIT or LES MILLS SPRINT workout as my second workout of the day.”
Late follicular phase to ovulation
As estrogen levels peak at the end of the follicular phase, so too can your training performance. In this phase, right before ovulation, you may feel perfectly primed to smash your goals and break new training records. Interestingly, many find this time is also when appetite can decrease.
After her period, Les Mills presenter Khiran Huston says her mood and energy hits an all-time high. “Early morning workouts are not difficult and I feel motivated to train more – running a little longer, extending out my training in the gym.” For Khiran, this second week of her cycle is when her cardio training is at its best.
After ovulation, your menstrual cycle hormones fluctuate fast. Energy levels and power can drop and you may be feeling heavier because of fluid retention. All of a sudden, your body is no longer primed for high-intensity training like it was in the follicular phase. Some women find that this is the perfect time to embrace longer, more steady-state training. You might like to focus on improving technique and movement efficiency, not pushing for a personal best. Parasympathetic activation can also be very advantageous during this phase – so enjoy activities like yoga, meditation and breathwork.
Kaylah says it’s during weeks three and four of her cycle that she usually feels very bloated, tired and lacking motivation. “This is when I lift lighter weights and add in workouts like RPM, THE TRIP or LES MILLS STRETCH, or even just walking. I choose my workouts depending on how I’m feeling.”
Khiran’s experience is similar. “This is when the early morning classes are not a vibe – in fact, they’re a struggle as I crave more sleep. I also know this is when I need to be careful with my weight lifting as I am more prone to injury or muscle soreness.”
“During this second half of my cycle, I ramp up my yoga sessions from two to four times a week,” says Khiran. “And I add in more yin yoga, which is slower pace where you hold the stretch for longer. My body absolutely loves it!”
It’s important to be aware that the shape of your cycle is unique and it can change at different points of your life. The hormonal shifts you experience your younger years can vary later in life and there can be significant changes when you reach menopause. Menopause is when periods stop and your hormones can go a little crazy, which drives a whole raft of different symptoms. These include hot flushes, insomnia and irritability. Staying active and doing exercise that you enjoy, including strength training, is key.
Benefits Of Exercising During Your Period
Here are some of the potential benefits a person may experience while exercising during their period:
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, exercise can help reduce feelings of depression. Therefore, exercising may help to improve mood when a person has feelings of sadness, irritability, or anger during their period.
Hormonal changes in the body can increase sensations of fatigue in people during their period. Physical activity can boost energy levels instead of lower them during a period, according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH)Trusted Source.
Reduces menstrual pain
A 2018 study found people who exercised for 30 minutes, 3 days per week, for 8 weeks had less menstrual pain than those who did not. They concluded that exercising during and before a period may reduce symptoms.
Physical activity does not have to be vigorous or for an extended time. Even two 15-minute walks a day can offer benefits. Exercise is also a healthful choice in general. It helps a person maintain their weight and helps to keep their heart and lungs healthy.
Exercising is a beneficial choice when a person is on their period and when they are not.
Type Of Exercises Should You Do During Your Periods
There are benefits to participating in all types of fitness during your period, so the following list is not exclusive. You can reap benefits of exercising during your period for any level of exercise
- High Intensity Workouts: The hormonal changes that occur in your body during menstruation, such as drops in estrogen and progesterone levels, allows certain fuel sources (carbohydrates and glycogen) to be more accessible to you while you have your period. As a result, you may be able to have more endurance & energy for short bursts of high intensity workouts, compared to other weeks where your estrogen is higher and your body relies more heavily on fat breakdown as an energy source. So don’t be afraid to sign up for that new HIIT class at your local gym, especially when on your period!
- Hot Yoga: Your body temperature is naturally cooler than normal during your period, as a result of the drop in hormones. You may find you can tolerate hotter and more climates, as well as take longer to feel fatigued.
- Light to Moderate Cardio: A light jog/run, aerobic exercise, dance routine etc. can be helpful to get your blood flowing and heart raised should help relieve cramping
- Light Walk: Anything to get your body moving can help increase your blood flowing and can help reduce inflammation. You don’t need to endure anything strenuous to reap some benefits of physical activity during your period
- None: You know your body best: if you really don’t feel well and your body is telling you to rest – listen to it. Also, consider consulting your OB/GYN if your symptoms are severe or abnormal!
Exercise during menstruation may help relieve symptoms and is also beneficial for overall health.
People do not need to restrict any particular physical activities while on their periods unless they experience pain or discomfort, which suggests they should slow down.