The days of staying home with a hot water bottle on your belly are over. These days, the many accessories available to women during their menstrual cycle means that you are free to roam. Pads and tampons are more absorbent than ever, and you can even try period underwear and menstrual cups for greater freedom while exercising. True, you may not feel like working out when “Aunt Flow” comes to town, but there are some very good reasons why you should.
You’ll feel better
Exercising can reduce the symptoms of PMS, including menstrual cramping. Exercise elevates mood and releases feel-good hormones that combat the menstrual blues. Even working up a sweat can reduce the bloating that often comes with Flow’s monthly visits.
Your period doesn’t reduce performance
In fact, it can have the opposite effect because your pain tolerance is higher and your body has better access to glycogen (a form of energy storage). This means that your body has better access to fuels. So it’s the perfect time to try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) because you will get more out of it than you would at other times in your cycle.
It keeps you cooler
Your body temperature is lower during your period, meaning that you are less likely to overheat. So go to that hot yoga class, step up your routine a little more and see if you can make that breakthrough you’ve been so close to.
It can make you mentally stronger
Just getting moving when you’re menstruating can be the hardest part, but once you do, you’ll find that the added pain tolerance and access to glycogen will be extremely beneficial to your workouts. Push yourself a little harder and train through that discomfort, and you’ll be surprised at the mental and physical benefits.
Some Things To Consider
1. Be sure to stay well hydrated.
2. Use the right type of protection (pads, tampons, period panties, menstrual cups) for you. Find what works, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
3. Stretch out thoroughly before exercising to alleviate cramps and stiff joints.
4. Be smart. Exercise at the right intensity for you. If you tend to be anemic during your period, you may not want to go all out, but still get moving. Even if it’s just a walk around the block.
5. Studies have shown a higher risk of ACL injury just before and during menstruation. Be sure to use good technique so you minimize your risk. Add balance exercises and weight lifting for your arms and legs, focusing on form over quantity.
6. Swim. There’s absolutely nothing that says you can’t swim on your period, especially with things like period panties and period friendly swimwear.