First of all, it is not a smart idea to exercise on your period, if you have a lot of pain. Some people have not only stomach pain, but back pain and headaches too. So in this case, working out during the period may make the pain even worse. If you have pain, you shouldn’t work out at least the first day of it. Take a rest day and continue the next day.
It can interfere with your social life and throw off your resolve to eat healthily. But there are also times when the cramps, irritability, and mishaps are just too much to handle, so you skip the gym.
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.
Researchers are saying that opting out of your workouts during the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle might mean you’re missing out on some serious gains. Training during this crucial time period can yield greater power, strength and muscle mass than any other time of the month, according to a new study from Umeå University in Sweden.
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.)
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.”
2) It helps with annoying period-related symptoms
It may seem like the last thing you want to do when you have your period, but working out can help relieve the symptoms that make getting your period so annoying in the first place.”The more active you are [overall] and more regular you are with your activity, the better your periods end up being—less cramping, less heavy flow,” explains Stacy Sims, PhD, an exercise physiologist for USA Cycling Women’s Track Endurance Program and co-founder of Osmo Nutrition.
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 energized 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) It may be the best time to do HIIT
The best workout to do during your period? High-intensity interval training. “When your period starts, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. And because of this, women can access carbohydrate/glycogen easily, as compared to high-estrogen time periods [when we] rely more on the slow breakdown of fat.”
In other words, this hormone shift makes fuel more accessible to your body, allowing you to push harder and get more out of short, fast-paced workouts than you would during other times of the month.
5) You can make it more comfortable
Know your period is coming up? Don’t let the pain sneak up on you. It’s totally fine to take an over-the-counter NSAID pain reliever, like naproxen or ibuprofen, 24 to 48 hours before your period is due. This way, you can sidestep your symptoms before they keep you home from the gym. If you forget, be sure to take them at the first twinge of pain.
6)It’s okay to give yourself a break
All this said, if you’re really just not feeling it, don’t beat yourself up for not going all out. Even just a gentle stroll counts as exercise, and it may help you feel better. “Your best bet is to do some light and easy movement that helps reduce inflammation via blood flow. If you really feel terrible, it’s all right to take a day or two off.
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.