Should You Exercise During Your Menstrual Cycle?

It is common to question whether or not to exercise while on your period. Issues such as pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) can affect a woman's ability to exercise. Some women report that exercise is the last thing on their minds while they are bleeding, and others say that it helps with cramps and other menstruation symptoms. Let's explore whether exercising on your period is right for you.

Key takeaways:

Should I work out on my period?

Incorporating regular exercise into your fitness regimen can help alleviate menstrual symptoms including:

  • Lethargy
  • Heavy blood flow
  • Cramps
  • Mood swings

There is no conclusive research stating that you should not exercise while on your period. However, it's recommended to take it easier — especially on your heaviest days of bleeding.

During your period you might feel like completely relaxing and not putting any extra stress on your body. This is absolutely normal, and you should listen to what your body needs. However, if you feel like going out for a run there is no scientific research that says you shouldn't. Ultimately, the intensity of your workout is completely up to you.

Benefits of working out during your period

Although it might feel more difficult to exercise during your period, there are a number of benefits behind those workouts, including:

SweatingThe release of water from your body can help relieve bloating.
Release of endorphinsThese are happy hormones which can boost your mood.
Stress-reliefStress can cause period cramps to be worse. Regular exercise is a great stress reliever and can potentially reduce period cramps.
EnergyRegular exercise can give you more energy, which is especially useful during your period when energy levels tend to be lower.

What activities should you do on your period?

While a full HIIT circuit or resistance bands and weight training session might not be your idea of a fun period workout, there are other, more gentle forms of exercise that are perfect for those lethargic days.

WalkingTaking a stroll outside and getting some fresh air can be great for easing cramps.
StretchingStretching focused on the hips and lower back feels great during those first few days of your period.
Gentle workoutsLow-intensity workouts are great to do when you are on your period, they are less stressful on your body while still increasing energy, blood flow and burning calories.
Yoga, Tai Chi or PilatesThese gentle forms of exercise are ideal for those of you who want to keep moving but are looking for something more gentle.

There are many styles of yoga, so if you are new to it, take the time to find out which style will be best for you on your period. You could try yin or restorative yoga which contain mostly seated and reclined postures using props for support.

There are some yoga styles and poses that are more challenging during your period. If you are looking for gentle movement then you would do best to avoid vinyasa and Ashtanga styles of yoga which are much more dynamic.

If you are experiencing cramps, back pain or any other menstrual symptoms, try these gentle and restorative yoga poses:

Yoga poseImpact
Butterfly poseFrom a seated position, bring the soles of the feet together and fold forward, using a prop such as a block under the head as needed. Stay for 1–5 minutes.
Reclined butterfly poseLay down on your back and bring the soles of the feet together, allowing the knees to fall to the sides. Place one hand on the belly and one hand on the heart. Breathe deeply and stay for 1–5 minutes.
Supported bridgePlace a block under the sacrum by lifting the hips and sliding it underneath you. Relax the front surface of your body, allowing your spine to lengthen. Stay here 1–3 minutes.
Cat/CowFrom a tabletop position on hands and knees, exhale round the back like a cat and inhale arch the spine, looking up. Repeat 6 times.

If you decide to continue your regular high-intensity exercise routine while on your period, you may also find these gentle yoga stretches help relieve any PMS symptoms. Remember, it's up to you how much you work out and when. Listen to your body, and if you know you need rest while you are on your period then take it. You can adapt your workouts to suit your energy levels and where you are in your cycle.

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