To work out or not to work out? That’s the most common question by the women in their menstrual cycle. Scouring the answer, we found divided opinions about working out during your period. Some prefer sticking with the age-old myth of avoiding strenuous physical activities while others are zealous enough to take hormonal contraceptive pills to slow down the flow for working out. What’s the right way? We have discussed the matter with top researchers and gone through medical journals. Here is what we’ve found.
Is It OK to Work Out During Period?
Yes, it really is OK to work out during period. It does not bring any negative effects on your body. According to experts, as long as you are feeling well during periods (no cramps, headache or exhaustion) and your body is allowing you to work out, there is no need of taking days off. Even the fear of sweating and heat should not refrain you. When you menstruate, the temperature of the body automatically drops and you experience an improved tolerance against heat and humid atmosphere.
Note: We can’t rule out the possibility of ACL injuries in the early days of menstruation but that can easily be avoided by picking the right moves.
Benefits of Working Out During Periods
The main PMS symptoms include—mood swings, bloating, cramps, stress and fatigue. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins. These feel-good hormones tend to make you feel contended and happy. The same endorphins, when released during exercise, play the role of natural painkiller and you may feel relieved from light or severe abdominal cramps (dysmenorrhea). Besides that, moderate exercises like yoga can stretch your abdominal muscles and that too makes you feel relieved from those menstrual cramps.
Improves Blood Circulation
Exercising improves blood circulation in the body and you feel relieved from different types of aches including headache and abdominal cramps.
When you menstruate, your body tends to retain fluids, making you feel bloated and heavy. Exercising lessens that heaviness (sweating releases fluids) and you feel more comfortable during periods.
Exercises to Avoid on Period
When it comes to working out during period, there are certain moves to avoid. Check them out.
Studies prove the possibility of ACL injury/tear or knee ligaments during periods. Exercises that involve quick turning of body, jumping or planting of foot, should be avoided.
You must avoid inverted yoga poses that involve standing on your head with your legs in the air. When you opt for such yoga pose during period, it swells your uterine vessels with blood and you may end up with excessive blood flow (vascular congestion in the uterus) during period. And more bleeding means more cramps.
Though weightlifting is not forbidden during these days but you should avoid any move that strains your back and abdomen.
What Are the Most Recommended Exercises During Period?
Cardio exercises, including walking (walk relieves issues like gas and constipation) and running (even on treadmill or elliptical machine) are best recommended during period. It not only improves blood flow in the body (that lessens pain) but the release of endorphins makes you feel refreshed.
Swimming improves blood flow and increases circulation in the body. We recommend it during period because it helps in curing lower back pain. At the same time, exposure to water is good for stiff joints. Just make sure you are wearing tampons.
Warning: In case of having severe cramps or very heavy flow, you better not opt for it.
Yoga is the best for sore muscles and fatigued body, which you normally have during period. Besides that, other PMS symptoms like stress, mood swings and anger too can be relieved with yoga. However, not all yoga poses are recommended during menstruation stage. Here are the few best yoga poses to try:
Working out during period using an exercise ball pressurizes your abdominal area. That relieves cramps.
Cat pose stretches the back muscles and that relieves the backache during periods.
Bow pose and cobra pose are good for abdominal contractions (contractions cause cramps).
Note: Don’t forget deep breathing with yoga postures to get better results.
Get that extra oomph with dancing because it not only uplifts your mood, it also improves heart rate and helps in burning calories.
Deep breathing is good for the whole body. It’s recommended during menstruation because it relaxes the uterine muscles that cause contraction and abdominal cramps.
HIIT/ High Intensity Interval Training
You can opt for higher intensity workout (weight-lifting) in the week you menstruate, and even a week later. Doing a fast-paced workout at this stage is not just easy but it also brings more fruitful results as compared to any other time of the month. This is the time when body encounters a huge hormonal shift. And both female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) come to the lowest level in the body. And instead of fats (primary source of energy), body tends to burn carbohydrates (carbs are easy to burn). Secondly, high intensity workout requires instant energy, and carbohydrates are the best source.
Tips and Advice
Never force yourself for HIIT exercises if you are not feeling well. Replace the workout with walking or go with some light weights.
Make sure you are using the right type of protection to avoid any leakage. Tampon and menstrual cup are the most secured options. To make it more secure, you can add panty liners with it.
Even what you wear makes the difference. Opt for loosely fit and dark colored (black is the best) clothes to avoid possible embarrassment.
Don’t forget to do some stretching after any workout that you do. Stretching relieves period pain, you might feel after working out.
It is really important to keep your body hydrated during your period to prevent the symptoms like bloating and headache. At the same time, keep on drinking water during and after workout.
You can take over-the-counter pain killers (ibuprofen or naproxen) about 24 hours before period or at the first sign of pain to avoid aches. It’s a good precautionary measure to continue working out during period.
Once you are done with working out, take a warm bath with Epsom salts. It too relieves muscles pain, constipation and bloating.
Pay heed towards your diet. Opt for lean protein and omega 3 supplements to cure joint inflammation.