Fit Knowledge

Exercise During Period – The Benefits and What to Avoid

Our periods can affect us in a huge number of ways, both mentally and physically. But is exercise during period something you should be doing?

As every woman knows, just because you’re on your period, it doesn’t mean the hard work has to stop. From work to day to day life, we can’t just press pause on our routine.

The same goes for exercise too. While some women can’t stand the thought of exercise during their period, others claim it helps them feel better on bad days.

It’s certainly a game changer for a lot of women. In fact, female athletes have to track and check their periods and therefore alter their training accordingly.

To find out whether you should be doing it at all, we look closely into the benefits of exercise during your period, as well as the things you should be avoiding.

Benefits of exercise during period

You may notice that, when you’re on your period, you feel more lethargic and less energetic. This is due to the fact that both progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest during your period.

Often this leads women to avoid the gym completely during menstruation – but this may not be a good idea.

Resting won’t make you feel better necessarily, in fact there are a range of benefits you can gain from working out on your period. Check it out.

Make the most of your hormone balance

As we mentioned before, when you’re in your first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (day 1 being the first day of your period) you are experiencing your lowest levels of female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.

This could be hugely beneficial to your training program, as they can inhibit strength and power developments after a workout. As such, training on your period could really help you see results faster.

One study backed this up, and found that the most significant strength developments were found during this time [1].

Improve your mood

Every woman is familiar with the changing moods that come with the menstrual cycle, and the time you’re on your period can often be a difficult and low time.

Exercise could help to combat this, as the release of endorphins you experience after your work out should lift your mood.

Reduce PMS

Many women experience tiredness and mood swings in the days leading up to their period. This is commonly known as pre-menstrual tension, or PMS.

Light exercise during this time could help to relieve some of the mood and tiredness related symptoms.

Enjoy your endorphins

We’ve mentioned endorphins a little so far, but they offer so much more than just mental benefits.

Endorphins are also natural pain killers, so if you regularly experience uncomfortable or painful periods, then hitting the gym for a light workout could help to offer a little relief [2].

[Related Article: Weight Lifting for Women – The Lifts you Need to Know

So, what exercise should I do on my period?

what exercise should you do during period

The best exercise during your period is the one you feel most like doing.

It’s no secret that period’s can be painful and uncomfortable, so if you don’t feel like doing a massive training session, don’t do one. Listen to your body and stick to doing what’s right.

As such, some of the best exercise during periods is lighter, more gentle work than normal, so maybe leave the super intense CrossFit workout for a few days.

Here are some examples of what you can do to stay active and enjoy the benefits, without being uncomfortable.

Low intensity strength training

Keep the lifts light and take the volume down a rep or three to enjoy a slightly more relaxed weight training session on your period.

As we mentioned above, strength can be improved if you train on your period, so it’s definitely a good idea to add a little weight training to your routine at this point in your cycle.

Light cardio

Forget about HIIT for a couple of days and go for some lighter cardio. Whether that’s a fast walk or a gentle cycle, a shorter, and lighter cardio session should help to offer the benefits we outlined above, without overly exerting you.

 

If you’re exercising on your period and you feel uncomfortable or pained, don’t push yourself. Get yourself a hot water bottle and rest up if you need to! Similarly, if you feel no different working out at this point in your cycle, then stick to your normal routine.

The main thing is to listen to your body and make sure you’re doing what’s right for you.

Can exercise during period help with weight loss?

There are a lot of rumors out there that working out on your period can help you lose more weight. In fact, you burn 10-20% more calories in the two weeks running up to your period [3].

Some believe that, because your female hormones are lowest during your period this leads to weight loss. In fact, it only offers the results we mentioned above, that you could get stronger and get more results from your workouts. This may lead to more fat loss, but the amount is likely to be negligible.

Overall, just keeping on top of your diet and exercise plan is the best way to keep dropping the pounds, if that’s your aim.

[Related Article: 5 Best Fat Burners for Women]

What exercises should you avoid on your period?

There isn’t really any particular exercise that will impact your body negatively while you menstruate. The key thing is to lower the stress levels a little and cut down on the intensity slightly.

It’s quite common for women to feel particularly tired around this point in their cycle, so if you’re feeling really fatigued, then really consider taking it easy. Your perceived rate if exertion might be increased, so you don’t want to push your body further than you need to.

Definitely keep training, but adjust it to suit your body and the way you feel.

Final word

Believe it or not, exercise during your period can help both the symptoms of being ‘on’ and could even help with training results.

Having said that, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard – especially if you already feel tired and fatigued.

Getting out and moving your body is definitely enough to help you gain the benefits of exercise during your period.

The most important thing is to remember to do what feels right. Don’t push yourself if you don’t feel like you can, but don’t limit yourself if you feel like you can keep up.

 

Lauren

Lauren is a health and fitness enthusiast, powerlifter and writer who's written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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