If you’re on your period, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do.
You’re not alone – most of us would prefer to spend that time of the month hiding in a duvet den with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a hot water bottle. But did you know that exercise can actually help your period symptoms and make shark week a little bit easier?
In this post, we’ll be exploring the pros and cons of exercising on your period and asking: is it really good for you?
Recommended reading: What You Shouldn’t Eat During Periods – Five Foods Troubling Your Periods!
Let’s start with some of the great reasons why you should exercise during that time of the month:
1. Exercise can relieve period cramps
You heard correctly – exercise can alleviate those painful period cramps.
Doing any kind of exercise that gets your heart pumping increases the blood circulation around your body. And this increased blood flow can help to tackle any soreness and cramps you’re suffering from because of your period.
So if you’re cramping up, then why not find your zen with some gentle yoga? You don’t have to run a marathon to feel the healing effects of exercise on your period; just a 20-minute yoga session of gentle stretching can increase your circulation and reduce menstrual cramps. Lovely.
2. Exercise helps with bloating
Bloating and periods go hand-in-hand; most women suffer from bloating and feeling puffy and heavy while menstruating.
This is partly because fluctuations in your hormone levels – in particular, estrogen and progesterone – affect the way that your body regulates fluid, which means you retain more water, creating the bloated feeling you experience. The same hormones cause your digestive system to work slower, leading to problems like extra gas – which leads to even more bloating and discomfort.
Luckily, exercise can help with this: being active can stimulate your digestive system and get any unwanted gas moving along, stopping you from feeling bloated and uncomfortable (check out this article to find out how).
Working out also means you sweat out the excess water your body is retaining, which tackles bloating. Just remember to top up your normal water levels by drinking plenty of H20!
3. Exercise boosts your mood
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If you’re feeling the PMS, then some mood-boosting exercise could be just the thing for you.
Exercise is great for your mental health and general mood because it releases endorphins – feel-good hormones – in your body, giving you a positive, uplifted feeling and lowering your stress levels. This makes it perfect for tackling any extreme mood swings or irritability you’re going through due to your period hormones.
Mood-boosting endorphins also reduce your perception of pain, so can also help with easing any period-related aches and pains you’re suffering from too.
4. Exercise can even regulate your period
And for our grand finale: exercise can even help to regulate your period.
If you suffer from an irregular menstrual cycle and you have no idea when your next period is going to turn up, exercise can assist. This is because it helps you to maintain a healthy weight (which equals regular periods), as well as balance the hormones which are responsible for your cycle.
However, exercising too much (we’re talking extreme exercising and severe weight loss) can make your period even more irregular or stop it completely.
Of course, there are some cons to exercising on your period. Below we’ve listed the main negatives that a menstrual workout could have:
1. Exercise could make you feel worse
While exercise, for the most part, will make you feel more energized and boost your mood, there is a chance that you might feel worse when you work out.
Exercise could make you feel more uncomfortable and amplify painful cramps, but it really depends on the type of activity you choose. High-intensity workouts in which you move around a lot and really push your body can make you sore; low-intensity workouts are much less likely to have a negative effect on you (this helpful blog post lists some of the best exercises while on your period). It also depends on how badly your period is affecting you.
If you feel really unwell and you’re suffering from major period cramps, don’t force yourself to exercise. Listen to your body and get some rest – it’s okay to skip a day or two.
2. You might not run at full capacity
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If you’re feeling drained and exhausted from being on your period, you might not be able to run (literally) at full capacity.
This could impact your performance or make your sport or workout feel harder, which means you feel like you achieve less than normal.
Don’t be disheartened – you can’t always work at full power. Go with the flow, and use the different phases of your menstrual cycle for different activities. So if you’re feeling particularly achy and crampy, avoid doing vigorous cardio workouts and opt for a yoga class or slow jog instead.
3. It’s easy to feel self-conscious
One of the worst things about exercising while on your period is the self-conscious you can feel, and this all comes down to one thing: leaking.
It’s all too easy to spend your time while working out worrying about whether you’re going to leak at any point and end up embarrassed, especially as exercise can slightly increase your flow. This paranoia can impact your performance too, meaning you struggle to get into the zone.
Of course, there are ways around this. Using a tampon or menstrual cup during exercise is more comfortable and less visible than a pad, and also means you’re much less likely to leak. And if you really want, you can even double up with a pad or period underwear for extra protection.
If you still feel paranoid, remember that you can vary your outfit too: switch to darker yoga pants or running leggings or wear a long t-shirt. This will help to ease your mind so that you can focus all of your energy on your exercise. Sorted!
As you can see, there are many pros to exercising on your period: it can help with all sorts of things, such as bloating, cramps, mood swings, and even irregular cycles.
On the other hand, there are a few cons to working out when you’re menstruating, but they are all relatively minor and can be fixed easily. Overall, you’ll find that exercise makes you feel much better and more confident.
Just remember to listen to your body and do what feels right. Don’t be afraid to take a day off if you’re cramping and feeling super unwell.
About The Author:
Hollie Jones is an expert lifestyle blogger who lives for writing. Hollie’s drive, passion, and background come from the arts and media sectors. She’s worked with some of the biggest and most responsible brands in the world, making her ideally positioned to offer lifestyle support and advice. You can read her latest blog posts on Hollie and the Ivy, where she shares tips and advice about her passions while having a lot of fun along the way.