If you experience painful cramps, you likely feel like doing nothing but relaxing during that time of the month. The thought of indulging in any activity, even if it is not strenuous is a definite no way. However, exercising is crucial while you are on your period. It is believed to have a wide array of benefits. That said, the primary thing women want to know is, does walking help period cramps? Well, let us find out!
Is Walking Good When On Your Period?
Besides cramping in your lower abdomen, you may also experience nausea and increased fatigue. These are some of the PMS symptoms that may discourage you from exercising. Additionally, you may also be discouraged from exercising, even with simple activities like walking.
One of the other PMS symptoms that some women experience is leg pain that radiates down their legs (3). This may be one of the barriers to exercising and may explain why women wonder if exercising is necessary during their period.
Indeed it is. Experts state that exercising helps in reducing period cramps. WebMD acknowledges that when you perform period cramp exercises like brisk walking, your body releases beta-endorphins (2).
These beta-endorphins produce analgesia that helps in relieving period cramps. Analgesia also helps burn the chemicals prostaglandins released during menstruation and cause the muscle contractions responsible for cramps (2).
Added Advantages Of Walking When On Your Period
There are many benefits to regularly walking when on your period. Besides helping minimize period cramps, walking also helps with the following:
Most women end up adding a few pounds when on their period. According to Mayo Clinic, this happens from water retention (6). Typically, your hormones fluctuate when you are about to menstruate. These hormonal changes result in premenstrual water retention (6).
This may result in weight gain, not forgetting about the dietary and appetite changes that may lead to a calorie surplus.
Walking helps you burn calories, and the effect is reduced bloating and less water weight. If you want to lose the water weight quicker, limit the amount of salt you consume, or take diuretics and magnesium supplements (6). However, before you settle on any of these interventions, make sure you talk to your doctor.
However, the fact remains that exercising can help with reducing this fatigue. According to Medical News Today, exercising with an activity like walking helps boost your energy levels during your period, which helps fight off fatigue (4).
Nonetheless, remember that you should not participate in anything vigorous or strenuous. Knowing this, talk to your doctor and let them recommend a light exercise for you.
Medical News Today acknowledges that exercising with activities like walking can help improve your mood. When walking or exercising is combined with any other activity, your body releases endorphins. These are hormones that boost your moods and help in reducing sensations of anger, irritability, and sadness (4).
Reduced Risk Of Disease
According to MedlinePlus, exercising with activities like walking helps decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke (1).
Similarly, it also helps with flushing bacteria out of your lungs and airways. This helps reduce your chances of getting flu, cold, or any other illness (1). Exercising also makes your antibodies and white blood cells circulate rapidly, making them detect diseases earlier than usual (1). Despite this, experts have yet to determine if this effect helps prevent infections (1).
Walking also helps in raising your body temperature right after you finish, which causes a temperature rise to help your body fight infections better (1). Lastly, walking helps in keeping your bones healthy and strong (1).
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Other Ways To Reduce Period Cramps
Besides walking, experts have also determined other measures women can implement when on their periods to relieve painful cramps. They are as follows:
Avoiding Specific Foods And Drinks
You may also relieve period cramps by avoiding several foods. The first category of foods to avoid while on your period is salty foods. According to WebMD, such foods increase bloating which makes cramps worse (5).
The other category of drinks to avoid is any beverage containing caffeine. Caffeine may cause irritability that may discourage you from taking part in any exercise. Similarly, food experts advise that you stay away from sugar when on your period.
Sugar makes cravings worse (5). If you have cravings for salty food, you will experience bloating, which, again, makes your cramps even worse. WebMD also suggests staying away from alcohol as it may affect your mood (5). It may make you moody and with little interest in exercise. Remember that exercise is one of the most helpful ways of reducing period cramps.
The other method you can use to reduce period cramps is by using heat application techniques. One of them involves putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back if you experience back pain during your period.
If that does not work, another heat application technique is taking a hot bath. Soaking in a hot bath helps relax the muscles in your uterus and increase blood flow in your muscles, which eases menstrual pain (5).
Taking Pain Killers
The other thing that can help ease menstrual pain is over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen. You may be able to ease period cramps with such medications. Please note, do not rush into taking these pain killers without getting a prescription from your doctor.
These are some of the methods experts suggest women implement to ease cramping while on their period. Check with your health professional before trying any of the methods we have listed to ease menstrual pain.
The Bottom Line
Does walking help period cramps? It certainly does. Besides easing cramping, walking promotes weight loss, improves mood, and reduces fatigue and risk of various diseases. That said, it would be best if you did not overdo it. Talk to your doctor to determine the best time limit if you choose walking as an exercise on your period.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Exercise and immunity (2021, medlineplus.gov)
- Exercise: SOS for Menstrual Cramps (2008, webmd.com)
- Menstrual Pain (2020, webmd.com)
- Should you exercise during your period? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (2020, webmd.com)
- Water retention: Relieve this premenstrual symptom (2019, mayoclinic.org)