Exercising While on Your Period: What You Need to Know

Exercising While on Your Period: What You Need to Know

It's that time of the month and even though you're keen to hit the gym, you find yourself wondering whether it's a good idea to exercise while on your period. Is it safe? Should you put your workout on the back burner until it's over? Today we're taking on the answers to those questions. We'll look at why exercising while you're on your period is a good idea, and how to get the most out of your workout during this time period.

Can I exercise while I'm on my period?

The first few days of your period can be rough. You may be feeling moody, uncomfortable, and in pain, but as counterintuitive as exercising when you're feeling like that may seem, working out can actually help you mitigate those symptoms. It can make you feel better and stronger. Can you exercise while you're on your period? Absolutely! Yes. You can, and you should exercise during this time.  

In fact, there is an entire training technique for women designed around the menstrual cycle. Phase-based training takes your physiology into account at any given moment of your cycle and allows you to 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

The list of mental and physical benefits of sticking to a workout during periods is long. Let's look at a few!

Improve Bloating

Unfortunately, bloating is one of the most common (and annoying) symptoms women experience during their period. Will exercise help period-induced bloating? It can! The science is there to back up this claim. Studies show that regular aerobic exercise helps to combat PMS symptoms, including bloating.

Improve Sleep

We already know that exercise can positively impact sleep patterns. Some women find it more difficult to get good quality sleep during their period. Exercise can help with that. 

Decrease PMS Symptoms

Fatigue and mood swings are common PMS symptoms. Both of which can be improved through exercise according to research. It's quite likely that the last thing you want to do when you are feeling super tired because of your period is to work out. It certainly seems rather counterintuitive, but working out can help you feel more energized. The same goes for mood swings. If you find yourself feeling down or irritable, hit the gym. You will feel so much better afterward!

Get That Endorphin High

There really is nothing like a good old endorphin high. Exercising can release endorphins and make you feel better. This is particularly helpful if your mood is getting the better of you because you are on your period. As an added bonus, endorphins, or beta-endorphins to be precise, are natural pain killers. These neuropeptides can help to manage the pain associated with your period. It's quite fascinating how exercise affects period pain!

Greater Gains in Strength and Power

Research shows that because your hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are lower during the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle, you could see greater gains in strength and power when you work out. 

You Can Exercise, But Don't Overdo It!

Although we've covered that exercising during your period is actually a good idea, you do still need to be mindful to not overdo it and push yourself too hard. You're going to be the most uncomfortable during the first few days of your period, so during that time, it's a good idea to take a gentle approach to your exercise routine. Don't crank your high-intensity workout up to full volume. Light, low volume, and gentle are keywords to keep in mind.

Good Exercises to Do While on Your Period

Running a marathon while you're on your period may be possible, but maybe it's not the best idea. There are other less intensive exercises you can do and still get the most out of your workout during this time.

Low Volume Power Based Activities and Strength Training

Remember how we said that the female hormones in your system are lower during the first two weeks of your cycle? Well, this means you have a great potential to increase your strength during this time. You may want to consider including some low-volume power-based activities and strength training exercises in your workout regime.

Light cardio and Walking

Turn down the intensity and duration of aerobic and cardio exercises that you take on. Especially during the first few days of your period. There is research that suggests that your lungs function more effectively later on in your cycle, so you may want to consider saving those types of exercises for later.

Pilates, Yoga, and Stretching

These exercises have the potential to help mitigate some of the uncomfortable symptoms you may experience while you are on your period. They can help with cramps, muscular fatigue and even help you relax if you are feeling particularly tense. They are also great for building strength. 

Which Exercises You Should Avoid While On Your Period

There is no black and white rule when it comes to what which exercises you may and may not do while you're on your period. Many women find that they can continue with their normal exercise routine during their entire cycle, and that's great.
The bottom line here is that you need to respect your body. Don't stop exercising while you're on your period. Just cut back when you feel you need to. You will do far more harm than good if you push yourself too hard during a time when your body is already experiencing the additional stress associated with menstruating. 
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