It’s hard to feel motivated to work out when Aunt Flow arrives. The cramps, bloating, low mood and fatigue that accompany your period hardly make you want to leap out of bed and hit the gym. But studies have shown that exercising while you have your period has some amazing benefits for your body as well as your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Exercise increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen to your muscles, which helps to alleviate cramps. Working out also encourages you to keep hydrated, which is super important in general but even more so when you have your period.
So what sort of exercise can you do?
Low-cardio workouts are great to help raise endorphins – your body’s feel-good hormone – which will lift your mood and help reduce cramps and headaches.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Your body is more effective at blasting fat during your period compared to any other time of the month due to a drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels. This makes carbohydrates/glycogen more accessible to your body, so you can push for more energy during those intense workouts. But take it easy during the first few days of your cycle, which is when most women tend to have the heaviest flow and/or the lowest levels of energy.
Going to a Zumba class (seriously would recommend this, they are an amazing workout and make you feel fierce) or just dancing at home can help brighten your day and get you moving.
You can typically keep to your normal workout routine, but just bear in mind that weights can put pressure on your core and may worsen cramps.
So many yoga positions help stretch out your lower back and muscles around your pelvis, which is fantastic when you have your period. The deep breathing and stretching helps to relax your muscles as well, alleviating cramps. If you can’t find a class that works for you, I’d recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube – she’s fantastic and has a multitude of videos for you to try, plus you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
Whatever workout you decide to do, or whether you even decide to work out at all (no judgement, we’ve all been there), be sure to drink lots of water and listen to your body. Every woman is different, and every cycle is different, so find what works for you. If you’re not feeling up for anything intense, remember even a gentle stroll counts as exercise and can help alleviate your symptoms and make you feel better.
You don’t have to let your period hold you back from achieving your fitness goals – you’ve got this, girl.