Exercising on Your Period May Relieve Cycle Woes
Posted byAlicia Trent
All women know the menstrual misery: the uncomfortable bloating, throbbing headache, the achy cramps. All you want to do is curl into a ball and lie motionless until the discomfort subsides. But believe it or not, this is the perfect time to get moving. Exercising on your period may actually help relieve those nagging menstrual symptoms. A few simple exercises may not only ease your pain but improve your mood and boost your energy.
Pose the Pain Away
Yoga is a perfect example of how exercising on your period can work in your favor. The practice of yoga is centered on deep breathing, which helps your body tissues relax and expand.1 Because oxygen deprivation to your tissues is a primary cause of cramps, yoga may help relieve painful cramping. Some easy yoga poses to try include:
- Reclined bound angle pose. Grab a blanket and sit on the floor with the blanket rolled behind your back. Add a pillow on top of the blanket. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, then carefully lay back on the blanket, resting your head on the pillow. Breathe slowly and hold the position for one minute, instructs Fitness Magazine.2
- Supported half moon. Find a wall and stand with your left side leaning against the wall. Bend forward, lowering your left hand toward the ground. Simultaneously, lift your right leg behind you. Then turn and reach your right fingertips toward the ceiling, positioning your right hip above your left hip. Place your left palm on the floor and keep your right foot flexed, while breathing slowly. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
Keep in mind that not all yoga poses are a good idea when it comes to exercising on your period. Experts warn not to try any inverted poses, such as standing on your head or flipping yourself upside down. These moves can cause vascular congestion of the uterus and result in extreme blood flow, according to Women’s Health Magazine.3
Riding the Waves
Despite what you’ve been told for years, you do not have to avoid water on your period. (We promise sharks will not attack you!) In fact, swimming is a beneficial exercise during your menstrual cycle. As you swim, your body releases endorphins that operate as your body’s internal pain relievers, says Penn Medicine.4 The flow and movement of the water can also work to relax your body and give you an increased sense of well-being. Don’t worry, you don’t have to swim Olympic laps. Start with a few butterfly strokes, do some knee bends, or swim the backstroke. The pressure of the water as you move can work wonders for your muscles while alleviating your worst period symptoms.
Racing for Relief
You don’t need to hit the gym to reap the benefits of exercising on your period. Light aerobic exercises like walking or jogging around your house or neighborhood can also do the trick. Walking, running and using elliptical trainers boost your endorphins and help relieve those pesky cramps and headaches, notes Health Magazine.5 These types of cardiovascular workouts also increase blood flow and move blood away from spots that cause you pain. Choose a cardio routine that raises your heart rate and that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Ride your bike to the grocery store and back. Climb the steps in your apartment building.
Just remember not to overdo it and to rest when necessary. There is research out there that is investigating whether exercising on your period can raise your injury risk. One study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise indicates that women’s muscle flexibility varies greatly during their menstrual cycles.6 It’s best to play it safe with basic cardio workouts and stay away from intense routines, such as CrossFit or high-impact sports.
1“Five Tips to Help with Relaxation,” Hologic, Change the Cycle. https://changethecycle.com/blog/2016/09/five-tips-help-relaxation/
2“5-Minute Workout: Relief From Cramps,” Fitness Magazine
3“What Exercises Should You Avoid During Your Period?” Women’s Health Magazine
4“5 Myths About Swimming During Your Period,” Penn Medicine
5“9 Best Workouts To Do When You Have Your Period,” Health Magazine
6Casey, E., F. Hameed, and YY Dhaher. “The Muscle Stretch Reflex throughout the Menstrual Cycle.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. March 2014. Accessed December 05, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24091990.
- Posted by Alicia Trent
- On January 10, 2017