4 benefits of exercising during your period
First of all, the good news: so far no study has found negative effects or health risks from working out during your period. In fact, a study done at the Umeå University, Sweden, has shown that training the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (each cycle starts with the first day of your period) actually optimizes your results: “Training during the first two weeks of the cycle is more beneficial to optimize resistance training, than the last two weeks.”
That should clear all excuses off the table, so let’s take a closer look at the actual benefits of exercise during your period:
1. Boost your mood and combat PMS
How bad PMS and mood swings hit you varies from each individual. It can range from experiencing debilitating anxiety to minor depression. Some might not feel any mood changes, others might have an inexplicable feeling of being down some days before or during the first days of your period.
In any case, it’s very common to experience this shift in mood due to hormones. And since it’s normal, don’t let that put you off. Rather get your body moving and some endorphins (amongst other things) flowing: “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine”
Studies have proved that people experiencing depression benefit from exercise as it decreases levels of depression and boosts the mood. So why not apply that to the to battle the pre-period blues?
2. Enhance blood circulation and ease menstrual cramps
As mentioned above, the endorphins released during workout reduce the perception of pain. Exercising is also known for reducing your levels of stress and anxiety.
Did you know that stress increases menstrual cramps?
So exercising will release your stress levels naturally, which can then reduce the severity of your menstrual cramps. It will also get your circulation going which will help reduce the cramps.
3. Exercising beats fatigue and headaches
When you feel particularly low on energy but can’t sleep either, the best thing to do is to move. It’s when you really don’t feel like working out, that you really should do it.
The first 10 minutes will be hard, but once you get moving it will strengthen blood circulation and activate your heart muscles. This will result in higher energy levels and help you beat the tiredness. Scientists have actually proved that when you feel down, it’s best to do exercise to feel more energised and awake.
Still and especially during the first days of your period, your body needs more rest and sleep. So make sure that you combine the exercise with also giving your body time to rest.
4. Regulate irregular periods naturally
If you have irregular periods or your period is overdue, physical activity can help your menstrual cycle get back on track. Be particularly active the days before you expect your period to come and pair it with a healthy diet. There are some fruits and herbs that act as emmenagogues and can help kickstart a late or irregular period. Try to eat some pineapples, papaya and parsley. Combine those with regular exercise the days before your period.
What exercise is best during your period?
It doesn’t have to be a hardcore cardio workout to experience the benefits of working out during your period. Simply a walk in the park or a couple of jumping jacks in your living room are also fine. The key experience of any of the above-mentioned benefits is to literally do any kind of exercise.
So the first step is to find out what you feel like doing. If you’ve got particularly strong menstrual cramps or are feeling down, it’s not very likely you’ll have the mental and physical strength to push yourself through a 10k run.
Be realistic with yourself. It can take a bit of a push to get started, but if you listen to your body you’ll know if you feel like running a couple of miles or much rather need some menstrual cramp-relieving yoga stretches.