Can You Workout on Your Period? Top Things You Should Know
It can be tempting to take refuge in your couch during your monthly cycle and ditch everything requiring any effort. When your body is aching all over, all you want to do is sleep the day away. Does this mean you should stop exercising altogether when menstruating? Or maybe, the better question would be: Can you work out on your period?
Once and for all, we'd like to clear things up and determine if exercising on your period is a good idea. Should you or shouldn't you? Let's find out!
Can you work out when you’re menstruating?
In a nutshell, it's an aye. The arrival of shark week shouldn't make you drop all your physical activities. In fact, there are pretty good reasons why you should stick to your workout routine—"red tide" or not. Later, we'll detail all the benefits of exercising when you're on your cycle.
But first, let's acknowledge that it can be a tad more challenging to work out when on your period than off it. And your strength of will (or lack of it) isn't the main culprit here. Feel a bit better already? That's right—you can chuck up much of the lethargy and fatigue you experience to your hormones.
Why is it harder to exercise during your period?
Your body produces various hormones, which regulate your mood and development. These chemical substances are likewise responsible for how our organs and metabolic and reproductive systems function.
When Auntie Flo comes knocking, the hormones estrogen and progesterone get on a roller coaster ride, fluctuating like crazy. In the first fourteen days of your cycle, estrogen is at its most dominant, causing fatigue. Unfortunately, progesterone levels also peak by the 21st day of a typical 28-day cycle, making you feel sluggish around this time. Along with your PMS aches and pains, the hormonal shifts can make it even more difficult for you to sleep at night. Without quality rest, your body won’t have the energy to keep you active and alert the next day.
If that’s the case, can you work out on your period? The quick answer is yes, you can.
Benefits of working out on your period
If everything is so messed up, why shouldn't you be excused from working out on your period? Not so fast there! It's precisely the workings of your hormones that your body will be able to manage better with exercise. If you get up on your feet and start moving, here's what it can do for you.
1. Boost your mood
Research shows that a fitness routine can help reduce feelings of depression and fatigue. Participants in one such study who engaged in 60-minute aerobic sessions thrice a week for eight weeks reported feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. This shows that physical activity can help improve menstrual mood shifts that trigger sadness, irritability, or anger.
Exercising increases the levels of the "happiness hormones" dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine makes you feel good and enhances pleasure. Alternately, serotonin helps regulate your sleep, appetite, and digestion. When you have a general feeling of well-being and your body's processes are functioning as best they can, you'll have even more desire and stamina to work out.
2. Increase energy
Physical activity can also enhance energy levels during one's period. So how is this possible when you're already sapped as it is? The reality is that exercise increases blood flow, improving the delivery of precious oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and cells. This improved circulation also strengthens your heart and lungs, giving you more energy and endurance to expend on your workouts. This enables you to work out more often and more efficiently, which then helps boost your muscle strength further.
When fertilization doesn't occur, the body needs to expel the resulting waste material. Prostaglandin levels increase to make this happen. This hormone causes muscle contractions that will help get rid of the uterine lining and some blood and tissues. These are your painful menstrual cramps.
The good news is that exercise may alleviate the menstrual aches and pains you experience in your abdomen, back, and lower extremities. This is because working out not only releases "happiness hormones" but also beta-endorphins—our body's own "morphine." These powerful pain suppressants produce analgesia (or loss of the sensation of pain) and expedite the burning of prostaglandins.
Now that you know how exercise can supercharge you into a better physical and mental state to work out (much like a chicken-or-egg scenario), it's time to get off your comfy zone and start working that body. But before you do, check out these tips to keep your exercise safe and sustainable.
1. Keep it light.
This means you shouldn't overdo it. Your muscles behave differently when you're on your period, making you more prone to injuries. Protect yourself further by including strengthening and balancing exercises in your workout routine.
2. Maintain a regular workout schedule.
Consistency is key. Don't just exercise when you feel you need to. Keep at it for the entire duration of your period—and even after that.
3. Do your favorite exercises.
It's hard enough being on your period without subjecting yourself to activities you don't particularly enjoy. Do you like nature? Then do some brisk walking in the great outdoors! The idea is to make it fun, so it doesn't feel like a chore.
4. Listen to what your body tells you.
We may have heavy flows one month and lighter ones the next. Do what feels right for you.
5. Stay stress-free.
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