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How To Exercise On Your Periods? Best Exercises To Do And To Avoid

While on your periods, it is critical to get your body moving. You may feel too weak and tired to even try and get up from the bed, but health experts advise that exercising on your periods can have several health benefits.

Although it may seem like a counterintuitive thing to do but exercising while on your periods can aid in relieving symptoms such as pain, cramps, bloating, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and nausea [1].

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Apart from these, exercising during your menstrual cycle is beneficial for one's general physical fitness and can help in reducing the risk and onset of various medical issues and health problems such as heart attack, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and so on [2].


Exercising During That Time Of The Month: Does It Really Help?

Exercising during periods is beneficial, as it affects the hormone levels and helps manage the period symptoms [3]. When your body moves (while exercising) it produces endorphins, which acts as a natural painkiller. However, keep in mind not to push yourself if you are experiencing a heavy flow and dealing with painful cramps.


Benefits of exercise during your periods:

  • Help boost your mood by tapping into your endorphins and prevent the onset of constant mood swings
  • Beats fatigue and headaches
  • Eases menstrual cramps by improving blood circulation
  • Helps manage dysmenorrhea (extremely painful periods)
  • Doing cardiovascular exercises like running, jogging, brisk-walking, stair-climbing, etc., during your periods (after your flow has decreased) can also be healthy is what experts opine. Cardio exercises can also produce the endorphin hormones to help ease certain undesirable period symptoms and they can also balance your body temperature, which is relatively low during the periods, due to the hormonal fluctuations [4][5].


What Exercise Is Best During Your Periods?

Exercise does not just mean hard-core cardio workout. You can go out for a walk or go jogging for a few minutes. You could also try menstrual cramp-relieving yoga stretches, light cardio workout or exercising at home. At the end of the day, it is important to listen and understand your body.

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During your cramps, you usually feel irritable and bloated. So, do not jump right on your treadmill and pump up the speed [6]. Start slowly and warm up by stretching. Light exercises will minimise the symptoms of menstruation and lets you go smooth about your daily activities [7]. Aerobics is a great way to break a sweat and have fun during your periods. You will not lose out on your workout and you will definitely feel high in your energy levels with this low-intensity workout. Here are a few exercises for women during their periods.

(1) Brisk walk: The most recommended exercise for cramp relief is low-intensity cardio that moves your muscles and increases your heart rate. The best example of this is to take a brisk walk around your neighbourhood for at least 30 minutes [8].

(2) Running: If you feel like you can handle a jog, then opt for one. Make sure you refrain from pushing yourself and stay aware of your limits. Drink plenty of water before the workout. This is an excellent way to get your blood pumping and will boost your metabolism instantly. Your energy levels will also increase, so this is an effective way to cure period blues [9].



(3) Swimming: Swimming is a good way to relax during your periods. Instead of doing aggressive laps, focus on taking slow, smooth strokes. This will surely increase your blood flow and boost your energy levels. One of the best ways to relax while getting a good workout is to opt for the backstroke [10][11]. Now you could be thinking, how in the world am I going to swim with a waterfall happening down under, well, that is why we have tampons or menstrual cups. Pads will not work and will just fill with water.

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(4) Yoga: One of the most versatile exercises, yoga is perfect for your periods. Refrain from inversions (yoga poses where the heart is higher from the ground than the head) and focus on stretches that target the abdomen to alleviate your cramps. Breathing and relaxing exercises can also get rid of tension and increase blood circulation [12].

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(5) Planking: This is a great exercise to do during your periods. Lie on the floor straight with your arms and elbows tucked under your chest. Lift yourself up using your toes and forearms and hold the pose. Repeat this exercise at regular intervals. This is a great way to give your whole body an intensive workout during your periods [13].



(6) Abdomen exercises: You can opt to do exercises that focus on strengthening the abs. You might think it will be counterproductive, considering you might be experiencing cramps. But this is an excellent way to loosen the stomach muscles, which will soothe your menstrual cramps [14].

(7) Weights: Lifting weights build muscle mass which increases metabolism and a higher rate of burning calories. Make sure you choose a lighter weight and focus on smaller reps. Take frequent breaks and make sure you do not exert yourself too much [15].

(8) Dancing: This is a great way to get out of your period blues and burn some calories. Put on your favourite songs and dance it out. You will be sure to sweat it up without overworking yourself.


Exercises You Should Avoid During Periods

While exercise is generally good for you, the physiologic stress of strenuous exercise can interrupt the balance of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which acts as the control centre for your menstrual cycle, which could result in missed periods, breakthrough bleeding (vaginal bleeding outside your regular period) and change in your flow (due to weight/fat loss and hormonal changes) [16].


On A Final Note…

Exercising during your periods is completely safe if you feel comfortable enough while doing so. However, if you do notice an abnormal flow or intense cramps after exercising, professional opinion must be sought.

Story first published: Thursday, December 17, 2020, 15:29 [IST]
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