If you're a woman who menstruates, you've probably heard a lot of conflicting advice on working out on your period. While much of the advice circles around whether or not you should exercise during your period, research suggests that hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle could have a variety of effects on energy levels and performance. Different exercise types are better suited to your energy levels and hormones at different stages of your cycle.
It's important to consider where you are in your cycle when planning your workouts and how this may affect your training. The usual menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days and then repeats four distinct phases. While the length of each phase varies from person to person, this guide can assist you in selecting alternative training approaches for each phase of your menstrual cycle, and this could even help you improve your performance.
Before you kickstart your period workout mode, it is important to understand the menstrual cycle phases. A menstrual cycle typically lasts anywhere between 26 and 32 days. It consists of four stages: the menstruation phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase.
The first is the menstrual phase when a woman starts her period, and her estrogen and progesterone levels decline. This usually lasts 3-7 days; however, it varies from person to person.
This also initiates the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of your menstruation and lasts roughly 16 days until ovulation. The pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) during this stage.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is released during ovulation due to rising estrogen levels in the follicular phase. A minor rise in body temperature around day 14 of your cycle is a clue for checking ovulation.
Finally, the luteal phase begins. This is when progesterone levels rise and estrogen levels rise somewhat, followed by a decline in both hormones and the cycle restarting (barring pregnancy). Bloating, headaches, weight changes, food cravings, and difficulties sleeping are all common PMS symptoms during the luteal period. This stage lasts between 11 and 17 days.
It's that time of the month again: menstruation. When you're menstruating, or when you're on your period, you're in this stage. But what happens in your body during your period, and how can you best support your body during this time?
You might feel fatigued during the first few days of your period, and you might not feel like doing any vigorous activity or a period workout. There is no medical reason not to exercise during the menstrual phase of your cycle if you feel physically capable.
You've probably received conflicting advice regarding how to exercise while menstruating if you should exercise at all. The first few days of your menstruation period might be the most inconvenient ones, especially if you bleed a lot. As a result, your first transition period workout may be challenging.
It has been shown that strenuous activity (over 75% anaerobic capacity) during the menstrual phase can cause an inflammatory reaction in inactive women. You might also have heard that exercise can assist with dysmenorrhea or period pain. There is some evidence suggesting that regular exercise — not only during the menstrual cycle but also regularly — can help reduce period pain.
So, how should you be working out on your period? It's up to you and your energy levels throughout your period. However, if you do decide to do a period workout, you should lower the intensity of your workouts owing to the possibility of diminished energy. Here are some exercise ideas for you to try for your period workout.
If a full, strenuous workout doesn't seem appealing during your period, restorative yoga poses can help you release tension and stress while calming your mind and body. Child's pose, reclining spinal twist, and cat-cow stance are all asanas that help you relax your lower back and pelvis.
Walking is the best way to get some physical exercise. It's probably a good idea to minimize the intensity of your cardio during the menstrual period by going for a lengthy stroll or a slower-paced jog. Walking is a simple recovery activity that you may undertake to stay in shape when on your period.
You can continue to strength train throughout your period's menstrual phase, but the weights in your workout should be reduced at this time. Because of the heightened weariness, the menstrual period is not the time to push yourself too hard — so take it a bit easier than usual.
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You're in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle now that your period is finished. Let's look at how you may get the most out of your workout during this time of the month.
The follicular phase of your cycle begins on the first day of your period, and as your body prepares to deliver an egg — which is usually associated with increased energy — your estrogen levels skyrocket after menstruation is done. Using your extra energy to challenge yourself and attempt new things in your fitness program is a fantastic idea during the follicular phase.
HIIT workouts are a terrific method to exercise with enhanced energy levels, whether you already do it as part of your regular workout regimen or it's something entirely new for you. HIIT is short, enjoyable, and has physical benefits while burning energy for up to 48 hours after the activity is completed.
Another fantastic method to let off steam and try something new like boxing. Use your additional energy to box to improve your overall full-body strength and endurance.
You might want to try pushing yourself a little harder with strength exercise during your follicular period when your energy levels are high. This could entail lifting bigger weights or performing push-ups on your toes rather than your knees. If you're new to strength training, start with simple bodyweight exercises to gain confidence.
The ovulation phase of your cycle follows the follicular phase and lasts 3 to 5 days between the follicular and luteal phases – days 12 to 19. As the follicular phase, ovulation will most likely be a high-energy period. If this is the case, you can take advantage of it by engaging in high-intensity workouts. You can continue to conduct high-intensity exercises that you did during the follicular phase for the most part. You could also try running or change up your cardio routine.
The luteal phase is the last part of your menstrual cycle before menstruation. This usually lasts 14 days, from days 20 to 28.
The luteal phase is marked by a spike in progesterone levels, which can cause drowsiness in some women. The mid-luteal phase has been associated with high cardiovascular strain and decreased exhaustion time under hot conditions for prolonged endurance training women. This is most likely due to an increase in body temperature at this part of the cycle. Whether you're doing endurance training or planning a race, this is something to think about, especially if it's hot and humid outside. During the luteal phase, your usual workout routine can be continued, but you might experience some difficulty with performing exercises with the same intensity. Following are a few exercises you could try during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.
Practicing yoga or Pilates during the luteal phase, when you're about to start your period, and your energy levels are likely to below, is a terrific way to enhance general strength while also relieving muscle tension.
When done three times a week for 12 weeks, aerobic exercise has been found to be useful for alleviating PMS symptoms. You might try low-intensity aerobic exercising during the luteal phase, such as taking a long walk, swimming a few laps in the ocean or pool, or going on a bike ride.
It's critical to keep track of your period to determine whatever phase of your cycle you're in. You can do this the old-fashioned way by using a calendar to document your period and symptoms or using period tracking software. Tracking your cycle can help you learn more about how your body functions and how the various phases of your cycle affect your energy levels, emotions, and workout performance.
This will be determined by how you feel at various phases of your cycle and the type of workout you want to do. The menstrual cycle has no effect on VO2max, which stands for maximal oxygen consumption and is a measure of aerobic endurance and fitness. This could mean that optimal performance can be reached at any point of the menstrual cycle for low-intensity steady-state activity, strength training, and even short-duration high-intensity exercise.
While there is scientific evidence that your hormones might alter your exercise performance during various menstrual phases, this does not imply a one-size-fits-all approach to exercise.
During your period or even in the mid-luteal phase, you may notice that you have a lot of energy. You don't need to adapt your workout to fit your cycle if this is the case.
While keeping track of your period is a good way to remain on top of your health and understand your hormonal swings, it doesn't have to decide what exercise you perform. Do what feels right for you, and remember that any type of exercise — even if it's simply a stretching session — and the practice of healthy behaviors are beneficial to your long-term health.
And if you think that working out on your period is for you, what are you waiting for? Put on your period workout shorts and get started.