During this time of the month, a lady battles so many things. We are talking about increased food cravings, mood swings, nausea, and sleepless nights. However, nothing tops this list more than the thought of not exercising. This is perhaps the last thing a woman wants to do, regardless of whether it is helpful or not. So how do you exercise during this period? Here is everything you need to know about exercising while having your period.
Is It Ok To Exercise During Period?
Some women cannot fathom the idea of working out during this time of the month while having painful menstrual cramps. For these women, exercising during this time is not an option. Others could not even imagine where to start, due to their heavy flows. Because of this, they choose not to exercise.
To really see if they are making the right decision, they have gone online with the question of whether or not a menstruating woman can exercise. Can you exercise during your period? The simple answer is yes. Despite it being something you most likely do not want to do, it is helpful during this phase of a woman’s life.
That said, we are not talking about high-intensity weight lifting or other vigorous activities. Rather, we are talking about light or moderate exercise. This kind of workout has been proven to be beneficial to a person who is menstruating (2).
Read More: What To Eat During Period To Lose Weight?
Benefits Of Exercise During Period
Is exercise during period good or bad? Exercising during that time of the month is good because it is linked to several benefits. Some of these include:
Reduced Menstrual Cramps
Exercising helps reduce menstrual pain or cramps in two ways. First, while exercising your body releases chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that help reduce menstrual cramps or pain experienced (7).
And second, exercising reduces menstrual cramps by producing analgesia (3). Analgesia helps with pain relief and also burns prostaglandins. These are the chemicals released during menstruation which cause muscle contractions (3).
Most women on their period prefer to sleep or indulge in less demanding activities due to increased fatigue. According to Medical News Today, fatigue arises from hormonal changes during your cycle (5). Exercising can help reduce fatigue by boosting your energy levels (5).
Some women tend to have depressive symptoms while on their period. Such women are advised to try to exercise as it helps fight against depression by improving their mood. In addition, exercising will undoubtedly make feelings of irritability, sadness, anxiety, or anger fade away (5).
Best Exercises To Do During Your Period
Although it is good to exercise during your period, not all exercises are suitable. You are advised to perform workouts that you can perform without straining. Here are some of the best exercise suggestions (2):
Low-Impact Aerobic Activities
Studies show that low-impact aerobic activities can help relieve PMS symptoms of depression and fatigue (2). These exercises include brisk walking, biking, swimming, and running. These are some good choices for you if you are looking for exercise to ease cramps during period.
According to WebMD, these activities reduce menstrual cramps or PMS by releasing high amounts of endorphins (2). We earlier discussed how endorphins reduce menstrual pain. In addition, some women prefer swimming as the activity which reduces cramps by helping them feel easy and weightless in the water (5).
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The other activity that helps during menstruation is yoga. WebMD reveals that stress makes up a more significant part of PMS symptoms. Yoga helps in managing stress levels and, therefore, reducing or managing menstrual pain (2). Some of the best yoga poses to help with such pain include the fish, cobra, and cat poses (2).
The other type of exercise recommended for women on their period is Pilates. Most women tend to feel tense during their period. According to Medical News Today, Pilates helps stretch or extend your body muscles and relieve such tension (5).
Treadmill exercise is another excellent workout option for women during their period. A study summarized by Medical News Today reveals that treadmill exercise reduces menstrual cramps and also increases daily functioning and the quality of life (1).
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
All you need is a 30-minute workout session a day. Some people may exceed this time limit but it’s preferable to keep it to a maximum of thirty minutes. For those who exceed the 30-minute mark, remember that over-exercising is harmful. It could lead to an increased risk of injury.
Again, Health Harvard has revealed that women on their period have an increased risk of injury. This is because female hormones are released which interfere with the functioning of the joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons (6). Unfortunately, these changes increase risk, which is why you are advised to perform light exercises only (6).
How To Stay Motivated To Exercise During Your Period
Exercise, especially for women while on their period, is easier said than done. It is challenging as well due to additional effects like nausea and heavy flows. To help you stay motivated, experts suggest you try the following:
You can take supplements to help relieve menstrual pain and allow you to exercise. Mayo Clinic states that several studies recommend taking vitamin B-1, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-6, Vitamin E, and magnesium supplements to help alleviate menstrual pain (4).
Stretching is crucial for any woman on their period as it helps reduce the tension that tends to double during that time of the month.
Hydrating is paramount for any woman on their period as it helps fight constipation, dehydration, and bloating (5). Drinking water will help ease stool movement, keep you refreshed, and motivated to exercise for a while. Remember also to drink water when exercising as it helps reduce discomfort (5).
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There is a saying that food is the cure to the soul. You can be motivated to work out when you are eating well. During menstruation, food experts recommend you stick to consuming a balanced diet. It should consist of:
- Fruits and vegetables. Studies reveal that eating fruits and vegetables helps reduce menstrual pain and cramps. However, it cannot improve the symptoms of someone with endometriosis (8).
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These are vital during menstruation as they help reduce period pain and inflammation (8). Some best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, walnuts, tuna, chia seeds, and flaxseeds (8). You can as well get omega-3 fatty acids by taking their supplements.
- Fiber. Fiber helps improve digestion and prevent other additional problems like constipation.
- Iron-rich foods. Women tend to lose a lot of blood when on their period. It can be extreme for some women and even lead to conditions such as anemia if the flow is heavy. Such women tend to lose iron compared to those who have light flows significantly. Nonetheless, both are advised to consume iron-rich foods. Some of the best iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, oysters, tofu, beef liver, beef, sardines, and spinach (8).
We understand that some women may have spicy or salty food cravings that may make them give in to junk food. However, Medical News Today suggests you keep away from any processed or junk food as they make period pain worse (8).
Similarly, you are also advised to keep away from foods with high sodium content. High sodium levels coincide with bloating and weight gain during menstruation (8). Although women eat sugary foods like cake when on their period, food experts discourage this (8).
The Bottom Line
Exercise is essential given its wide array of benefits. However, when on your period, you need to be very careful when choosing an exercise program. Remember that exercise during period has to be light or moderate. Some of the exercises you can consider are brisk walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or treadmill exercises. As always, talk to your doctor before adopting or making changes to your exercise program.
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!
- Can treadmill exercise relieve period pain? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Does Exercise Help with PMS? (2020, webmd.com)
- Exercise: SOS for Menstrual Cramps (2007, webmd.com)
- Menstrual cramps (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Should you exercise during your period? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Staying active at “that time of the month” (2016, health Harvard.edu)
- The role of exercise in the treatment of menstrual disorders: the evidence (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What should you eat on your period? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)