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Should I exercise when I’m on my period?

Exercising whilst you are bleeding might seem like an irrational thing to do. It may be the absolute last thing on your mind while having bad cramps, nausea, headache or/and other symptoms of menstruation. Sometimes, laying down in a fatal position is the only thing to do. We get it. However, exercising while on your period can help alleviate the negative symptoms of menstruation. In this blog, we briefly describe the benefits of working out on your period and also describe the topic from a shame perspective.

Here are some benefits one can get from exercising while you are on your period...

  • Movement can release endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals, also called “feel-good hormones”; they have pain-relieving effects, pleasure-including properties and keep hormones in balance. This helps to regulate irregular periods naturally.

  • Exercise also decreases inflammation, improves blood flow and increase energy over time. Studies show that the more regular you are with your activity, the better your periods end up being, with less cramping and less heavy flow.

  • If you experience fatigue and mood swings in the days leading up to your period and during your cycle - regular movement exercises can lessen the symptoms.

  • Exercising can support a healthy lifestyle for most people, especially when it comes to hormonal balance.

  • Exercising can lessen pain, cramps, bloating, depression, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and nausea.

From a shame-perspective

when searching around the internet on the subject of exercising on your menstruation, a lot of sites and influencers encourage people to “get out of bed!” and “get moving!” To a certain degree, we do understand that movement can help cramps, as explained above. Something that is bothering us is the tone around it, people who menstruate can absolutely be productive and active, but we have to remember that everyone is different, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people have extreme cramps from menstrual disorders, and others might only be cramping on the first day of the period - making it easier to work out while bleeding. The taboo around menstruation leads to many people never talking about how bad their period symptoms are, and they end up suffering in silence and not seeking medical help. Our pain levels are too normalised in societies of the world. So next time someone is having period cramps, try offering them comfort and pain killers instead of telling them to go and exercise. It’s about sensitivity.

What should I think about working out on my period?

You do what feels good for you. Stretching, sporting or walking. The hormones in our bodies fluctuate throughout the cycle, and one cycle may not look like another one. You probably already know what feels good for your body and what does not. Listen to your body; every period is different. One month you may have a light flow, no cramps, and the energy of a superhero. But next month, it might take all your energy to do a lap around the block. Remember that it is okay to give yourself a break if you just do not feel like it, don’t beat yourself up for not going all out. You can think of…

  • Sometimes, high impact rapid movement can actually aggravate your menstrual cramps and leave you feeling completely wiped out. High impact training adds more stress and fatigue to your body - so try doing something that makes you feel more energized.

  • Light cardio exercises, like an outdoor walk, can be a good alternative when you are on your period.

  • Some research shows that strength training during the follicular phase results in a higher rate of muscle strength compared to training in the luteal phase.

  • Do movements that will help, rather than harm your body. 

  • Do not push yourself if it does not feel right. If you feel extreme fatigue, nauseous and have increased pain and discomfort, stop what you are doing and take extra time to recover. Do not force yourself to push through - listen to your body.

Remember! If you are regularly side-lined by your period, consider talking to your doctor. If you have heavy periods and major aches, it could signal a health problem like endometriosis.


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