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Can You Exercise During Your Periods?

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 30 June 2022, Updated on - 20 July 2022

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To exercise or not to exercise? Yes, gathering the motivation to physically workout during periods can be challenging because PMS (premenstrual syndrome) pain, cramps, and mood swings are for real. Furthermore, many women experience a variety of symptoms whose intensity could vary from one woman to another . These symptoms can hugely impact mood and make you feel unmotivated and lethargic.

However, studies suggest that exercises increase blood circulation and release endorphins decreasing levels of pain (dysmenorrhea) and stress (cortisol) in the body. Additionally, pairing yourself with a healthy diet can not only boost energy levels but also help regulate irregular menstruation.

What does menstruation do to your body?

The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones such as luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which are produced by the pituitary gland that promotes ovulation. In simple terms, when you are on your periods, your hormones are on a roller coaster ride. Hormonal changes and fluctuations throughout the month result in pain, bloating, mood fluctuations, cramps, and also emotional imbalance.

It has been observed that even a week before menstruation, some women feel irritable and tired, mostly avoiding all forms of physical activity. This is particularly because during this phase estrogen and progesterone levels dip leading to fatigue.

What exercises should one do while on periods?

Light cardio

Cycling, swimming, rowing, elliptical, and skipping are a few excellent options of low cardio exercises that one can opt for during periods. However, you must use a tampon if you are swimming during your periods so that you don’t bleed in your swimsuit. In addition, swimming can ease out pain and cramps. However, take care of hygiene post swimming and change from tampons to sanitary napkins as soon as you finish swimming/workouts. 

Light walking

Light walking is beneficial for a variety of reasons, for starters, only 20 minutes of light walking can help relieve stress (cortisol) and elevate the mood. However, if you are experiencing heavy flow take frequent pauses or opt for low-key exercises such as yoga.

Yoga

yogaduringperiods

The physical and mental benefits of yoga should not stop just because you are having your periods. Camel pose, bridge pose, bound angle pose, dolphin pose, fish pose, legs up the wall pose, and lotus pose are extremely beneficial to relieve symptoms of PMS, cramps, and heavy bleeding. 

Low volume strength training

Reducing the amount of intensity of exercises is a wonderful way to tailor intense strength training. Instead of press-ups, squats, and lunges, one can choose to exercise with light weights to keep strengthening the core muscles.

Pilates

During the first 1-2 days women may experience breast tenderness, soreness in muscles, and fatigue. Both Pilates and yoga relax muscles and decrease body pain. However, women with back pain might prefer Pilates to yoga. Pilates relieves external stresses and improves back pain along with increasing energy levels.

Exercises to avoid during periods

Intense cardiovascular workouts

During periods progesterone and estrogen levels are naturally low resulting in mood swings, lethargy, and fatigue. While it is recommended to perform low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, etc. One should not perform high-intensity workouts such as lifting heavy weights, running, squats, jumping jacks etc. These can impact the flow and cause heavy or light bleeding along with disrupting hormones.   

Inverted yoga poses

Yoga is one of the best exercises that women can do during their periods. However, certain poses may require inverted poses such as handstands, shoulder stands, and standing on your head and plow pose. These postures can lead to vascular congestion in the uterus and result in excess flow and pain. Hence, they are a big no-no during periods.

Moves that can make cramps worse

It has been observed that tummy crunches and squats can make symptoms such as pelvic pain, lower abdominal pain, and back pain worse. Trainers suggest that it is best to avoid these moves during periods to prevent discomfort and disrupt the menstrual cycle in any way. Its recommended to do low-intensity workouts and also reduce workout timings to ensure smooth periods.

Conclusion

There is a common myth that women should not exercise during periods. However, studies say that exercises can be very beneficial during the menstrual cycle in many ways. Women just need to make some minor changes in their exercise regime that will relax their body and mind. Additionally, it will effectively also curb symptoms such as cramps, irritability, mood swings, pain, bloating, and lethargy.

Have more questions? Speak to an expert

 

- Authored by Dr. Tulika Roy

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