For many women, exercise and their period don't mix. But it doesn't actually have to be that way! With some planning and the right attitude, you can stay active even when Aunt Flo is in town. Here are several tips to help you exercise while on your period:
Choose the correct type of workout/exercise for you
When you're already feeling bloated and crampy, the last thing you want is additional inflammation from exercise. Your body is already going through enough, so give it a break. Avoid high-impact activities like running, jump squats, or kickboxing, which can aggravate your cramps and worsen them.
A moderate cardio workout can boost your energy if you're feeling sluggish. For example, try going for a brisk walk, jogging, or bike ride.
If cramps are your primary concern, do some gentle stretching or yoga. Both exercises can help relieve muscle tension and ease the pain.
When you're feeling bloated, low-impact activities like swimming or Pilates can be especially helpful in reducing bloating and water retention.
It’s good, however, to remember that there's no need to push yourself too hard. If you're not feeling up to a full workout, it's perfectly fine to take things easy and just do some light activity. Just listen to your body and do what feels best.
Wear the right gear
A good sports bra and supportive underwear can make a big difference when working out on your period. You might also want to try a menstrual cup or good quality period-proof underwear, so you don't have to worry about leaks. In addition, it’s important to ensure you’re wearing something comfortable that won't chafe or irritate your skin.
If you're worried about cramps, consider investing in a pair of period-proof leggings. They might look like granny pants, but trust us, they're worth it.
Don’t forget the essentials
Before heading out for a workout, pack all of the essentials, such as a spare pair of panties, a pad or tampon, a small towel or a change of clothes, and some pain relief medication, just in case.
You don't want your period to put a damper on your workout, so being prepared for anything can help you exercise safely and comfortably.
Start with some light stretching
Your muscles may be a little tighter than usual, and warming up before you start an exercise routine will help to loosen them up and get your blood flowing. Focus on your neck, shoulders, and back – where you’re most likely to experience tension.
A bit of light stretching can also help ease any pain or discomfort you're feeling, increase your range of motion, and reduce the risks of cramps later on.
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
It's essential to stay hydrated no matter when you're working out, but it's especially crucial when you're on your period because dehydration can actually worsen cramps. So drink plenty of water before and during your workout, and make sure to replenish any fluids you lose through sweating. Sports drinks can also help replace lost electrolytes.
Avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee or alcohol.
Take breaks as needed, and remember to rest!
If you need a break, don’t be afraid to do so. For example, take a few minutes to catch your breath and drink water. And if you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy, stop exercising, sit or lie down until you feel better, or cut your workout short altogether.
Your body is already going through a lot when you're on your period, so don't try to push yourself harder than necessary. It's not worth risking your health!
Cool down properly
Once you’ve finished your workout, cool down properly to help your muscles recover before heading home. Do some gentle stretching or walking in place until your heart rate has slowed down.
Additionally, drinking water and eating something light before showering and changing into clean clothes is a good idea.
Benefits of Exercising on Your Period
When you're feeling crummy and bloated, you just want to curl up in a ball and probably watch Netflix all day. We get it – it's tough to muster the motivation to exercise when you're on your period. But trust us, there are benefits to working out even when you're not feeling your best:
1. It can help relieve cramps
If you suffer from bad period cramps, exercise can relieve some pain. When you work out, your body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers. So next time you feel crampy, go for a walk or do some light stretching.
2. It can improve your mood
Just like endorphins help relieve pain, exercising also has the power to boost your mood. So if you're feeling down in the dumps during that time of the month, a workout can help pick you up.
3. It can give you more energy
It might seem counterintuitive – shouldn't working out make you even more tired? But in fact, moderate exercise can actually give you more energy. And that extra pep in your step can be helpful when you're dealing with PMS fatigue.
4. It can help with bloating
Period bloating is often caused by changes in hormone levels, which can cause the body to retain water. Exercise can help reduce bloating by helping the body expel that excess water.
5. It can improve your sleep
If you have trouble sleeping when you're on your period, exercise can help. Working out regularly can improve sleep quality and help you fall asleep more easily. And getting enough rest is vital for dealing with PMS symptoms.
Following these tips should help make exercise easier (and less messy) during your period. Listen to your body, and don't push yourself too hard. Your period is not the time to set any personal records.
If you have any of your own period-friendly exercise tips, let us know in the comments below!