It’s that time of the month again and you can’t bring yourself to go to the gym. Your stomach is cramping, your mood keeps going from good to bad and that chocolate bar won’t stop staring at you.
Sound familiar? Surprisingly enough, you’re not alone! For one reason or another, many women choose to skip exercising while on their period.
We know it can be difficult to motivate yourself when you’re not feeling your best, but at the end of the day, being on your period isn’t reason enough to skip your workouts.
That being said, it’s always important to listen to your body. Whether you’re menstruating or not, if your body is trying to tell you that you’re overdoing it, take this as a sign to rest or you could risk injuring yourself or burning out.
But beyond that, there are, in fact, a number of benefits of working out on your period. Read below to discover more.
CAN YOU EXERCISE ON YOUR PERIOD?
The short answer is yes, you can exercise on your period. But, realistically, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Ever felt like your energy fluctuates when you’re training in the gym? Well, this can often be due to your menstrual cycle.
Depending on where you are in your cycle, you may find that your energy levels and strength are seriously affected. One day you might feel on top of the world, but the next you could be fighting the urge to take a nap on the bench press.
The solution is to find balance. If you can learn to manage your fitness schedule in line with your cycle, you’ll find training that little bit easier.
HOW DOES THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE AFFECT TRAINING
It’s important to bear in mind that periods differ from woman to woman, so not all of this information may be applicable to you.
Throughout your menstrual cycle, your body will go through a number of hormonal changes. To keep one step ahead, you may wish to use a cycle tracking app, such as Flo.
Menstrual cycles are naturally made up of four different phases. These include:
- Menstrual phase;
- Follicular phase;
- Ovulation phase;
- Luteal phase.
During each of these phases your energy and nutritional requirements will change. It’s important to get to know your body and what’s normal for you, as this will indicate when you need to rest and when you can give yourself the green light to go full out in the gym.
WHAT EXERCISES CAN I DO ON MY PERIOD?
During the menstruation phase, it’s important to pay close attention to your emotional and physical state. Be patient with yourself and allow time to rest. You may wish to try low-intensity exercises, such as yoga, gentle-stretching or mobility.
During the follicular phase, you will experience increased energy levels and strength, so you may find you can train better and harder. In which case, it’s a good idea to focus on strength training or HIIT workouts.
The ovulation phase will see a sharp increase in all hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This is your time to rise to the challenge, smash your workouts and set yourself a new PB.
Lastly, during the luteal phase, your metabolic expenditure will increase, which means more calories burnt per day. Use this to your advantage to focus on circuit-style training. Be cautious that you may find training more challenging in general due to PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms. In this case, you may find it more suitable to try LISS.
Pssst… Puzzled by gym acronyms? Check out our blog here.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WORKING OUT ON YOUR PERIOD?
The physical and mental benefits of exercise don’t stop just because you have your period. In fact, keeping active can help ease some of the side effects of menstruation.
The bottom line, ladies, is this. Listen to your body.
Yes, exercise can be good for period pain, but not everyone will reap the same benefits. You and only you know what’s right for your body, so it’s essential that you treat it with the patience, respect and love it deserves.
While light exercise may help some, for others, the best solution is, quite simply, to rest.
If you think you need additional support, we recommend that you contact your local GP.
READ MORE: Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.