Many women suffer a range of discomforts while on their periods and wonder whether or not it's a good idea to push themselves and exercise. The answer isn't the same for everyone, but for the majority of healthy women who have uncomplicated periods, you can absolutely continue to complete your workouts.
For many of us, the main challenge isn't actually doing the workout. It's getting up and finding the motivation to get started. After all, when you're feeling achy, cranky and/or bloated, the last thing you want to do is get started with a sweaty workout. At the same time, that sweaty workout is likely one of the best things you can do for your mood and your discomforts.
The trick is to know what you're doing when you're exercising on your period. There are some ways to get more or less out of the time you spend moving around.
• Choose the right activity – To start, you should know that any workout is better than none at all. That said, if you want to get the most out of the time you put into your workout, then you're going to want a high intensity session. The reason is that when you take on a high intensity workout, your brain will release more endorphins, which will make you feel better – something that is especially important at this time in your cycle. High intensity exercise also helps to reduce inflammation, which decreases discomforts like pain.
• Focus on cardio – You may think that strength training is the way to go when you're on your period, but it's actually cardio that will get you the results that you want. There is a direct connection between the severity of PMS symptoms and aerobic capacity. This means that the more you take on an aerobic – cardio – workout, the more your PMS symptoms will wither away. On the other hand, there doesn't appear to be any connection between strength training and symptom reductions.
• Go regardless of flow – Exercising won't change how heavy or light your flow will be. Most women have the heaviest flow and symptoms during the first few days. As much as those may be the times when you'd be least likely to be inclined to head out to do your routine, they are the days when you're most likely to benefit. Even though you might think you'd prefer to hide under a blanket on the couch, hugging a hot water bottle, send yourself outside for a brisk walk, run, bike ride, or some time on the elliptical at the gym.