Once a month our beautiful body rips itself apart and launches us into bed with a jar of Nutella for the day. For some, the pain can be excruciating, leaving us hunched over with hot water bottles and in emotional disarray. On the other hand, for others, performing daily activities may be a little bit difficult but are generally accomplished with ease. Whatever your monthly journey is, we've always questioned whether or not exercising is something we can or should do, or if it’s something we should maybe pass up.
If you are someone who is very physically affected by their menstrual cycle, working out may seem like a long shot for you or even something you wouldn't dream of doing. If this is the case, then your best option is to try and listen to your body and take whatever days you need to get yourself back on track. However, studies do show potential benefits when exercising on your period.
Benefits of Exercising During Your Period
The benefits mainly have to do with improving your mood, potentially reducing any pain and reducing the fatigue you may feel during this time of the month. So, if you're someone who has feelings of depression, sadness, irritability, anger, has increased feelings of fatigue, or experiences menstrual pain, you can benefit from exercise not only during your period but specifically beforehand too.
When we exercise, we release a hormone called endorphins. Essentially, endorphins offer the potential to reduce pain and boost pleasure. This release of hormone results in a better feeling of overall well-being and are typically seen to be released during exercise, eating, miscellaneous enjoyable activities or even sex. Making all of the above perfect for pre-period or even during your cycle if you're up for it.
Working Out On Your Period
If you are someone who is thinking about exercising while on your period there are a few considerations you need to put into place before venturing out on whatever exercise you prefer. This includes
- Staying hydrated, as when the body undergoes its process, you can become more prone to dehydration causing bloating or constipation.
- Stretching is also something that should be incorporated into your pre-period and period workouts as gentle stretches like yoga can help to reduce tension in the body that can be caused by discomfort and pain you may feel.
- If you are worried about how you feel during exercise, especially if you aren't at home, make sure to bring any pain relievers you may need.
- Having enough protection is vital while you exercise. With exercise causing blood to move faster, our flow increases therefore extra protection will take care of anything moving a little bit faster than expected.
One thing that women could potentially feel while exercising is insecurities due to bloating or the thought of period blood coming out faster than our protection can handle. If this is something that you potentially could feel, there are ways around this. Don't be afraid to wear more loose-fitting clothing and if you're really troubled about your menstrual flow, wearing dark colours will benefit you the best. As for protection, you can always double up on a tampon or pad, or if you use the cup, you can double up on a cup and pad as well. Specific pads for working out are available.
Should You Workout On Your Period?
So, when we asked the question "should you or shouldn't you work out on your period?" The bottom line is it's completely up to you. There are benefits there, but we first and foremost need to listen to our bodies and recognize how our menstrual cycle works. Each and every one of us has a different flow, feel different pain and have different energy levels throughout our cycle. While pushing ourselves to exercise and pushing ourselves throughout our workout is one thing, creating stress and exhaustion on our body or potentially beating ourselves up mentally for not being able to exercise at our full potential is a definite possibility.
The last thing our poor body and mind needs is our inner critic getting frustrated, angry, or upset at ourselves for not being able to accomplish what we would on a normal day-to-day basis. While our body goes through so many changes, we also need to make sure we are being compassionate to ourselves mentally and physically. This could look different for everybody. For instance, depending on when your initial flow and pains set in, you could benefit from rest in the initial stages. This allows for our body to expend its energy on your menstrual cycle, rather than using it on exercise. However, make sure to put into consideration the benefits of exercising while on your period into your decision.
Which Exercise is Best During Your Period?
Taking some rest time, specifically the first 24-48 hours is never a bad thing. If this is something that you feel isn't an option for you, bringing your exercise regime down a notch for those couple of days is also a great option. You can look at just utilizing yoga, pilates practices, or going for a walk instead of running. If this sounds like a better option for you, work towards doing these practices in nature and surround yourself with some positivity during this stressful time.
Self Care During Your Period
Last, but certainly not least, be gentle with yourself mentally and physically. Going through so many physical changes and emotions is one thing, becoming frustrated and angry at ourselves is another. Be gentle with yourself, utilize self-care techniques that help you feel balanced, relaxed or give you a sense of positive energy. This will make our whole wonderful process that much better.
Studies show that working out on your period can benefit mood, tiredness and pain. However, we can benefit significantly from exercising before our period as it can set us up for a smoother cycle. For some, deciding whether or not to work out may be a difficult decision to make. The best thing for you to do is listen to your body, utilize walks, yoga or pilates, or even take a rest day to get yourself back on track. As long as you keep everything positive, you really can't go wrong.