It’s the last thing you want to do when you’re on your period but we’ve discovered some amazing benefits of actually moving your body and getting a little sweaty at that uncomfortable time of the month. Read on to discover why you should be exercising on your period!
Irritated? Stressed? Somehow craving a whole tub of ice cream to yourself? The classic signs of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Don’t let your period ruin your workout routine. Exercise affects our body’s hormone levels, including the secretion of endorphins (giving us that killer feel-good response), which helps to reduce stress, cramps and headaches. All of which are more common when you are on your period. The more you exercise, the more endorphins are released; kill two birds with one stone – keep fit and improve your PMS symptoms.
Rid Body of excess fluids
Water retention is common during menstruation and when you feel bloated and irritable during your period it can be hard to muster the energy to leave your bed let alone exercise. Starting slowly, you’ll soon find you feel better after a surge of endorphins. Water retention is often due to women not drinking enough water before and during their period, dehydration leads to water retention as the body’s way of keeping what it has. To reduce the consequences such as bloating it is important to stay hydrated to flush out any sodium in your body and in true Hip & Healthy style engage in some exercise to sweat it out and increase your circulation. You’ll be back in your skinny jeans and be thanking us in no time!
Tracked correctly; can increase the effectiveness of your workout
Now, this is the clever bit. The bit that is almost our body’s way of helping us cheat! The menstrual cycle lasts 28 days with hormonal changes. Hormones affect energy levels, stamina, the likelihood of injury and how well we respond to exercise. So depending on the hormonal changes and where you are in your cycle, you can sync your workouts to your cycle and make the most of your workouts!
During the first 14 days, this is when the ovary releases an egg. Once your period lets up, testosterone and oestrogen rise and so this is actually a time when our pain tolerance is raised, so prime time to hit that intense workout. As a way of thanking your body for helping you raise your game, try out a new spinning class and get in some cardio!
After these 14 days our oestrogen peaks and is slowly declining towards the 21st day. This is where you will find yourself with a slightly higher appetite than other times, but remember; this is when your metabolism is working the hardest. So don’t fret too much if your mid-afternoon snack comes ten minutes after lunch (and then maybe even another ten after that one). Again tailor your workout to your cycle; during the first few days when oestrogen and testosterone peak, your body can handle heavier weight training. So here’s the time to tone up and hit the weights.
Day 22 – 28: preparation for the whole cycle to start again. Think of this in terms of a Friday afternoon, feeling tired and a little groggy? Still want to workout? Not really. Add to this that you may be experiencing bloating and the occasional cramps. This is the time to schedule lighter exercise and rest days. Take the “zen” route and clear your groggy mood with some yoga, but don’t forget you can still get that endorphin high; go for a light bike ride or an easy swim. You’re always going to feel better once you get going. We like to remember this mantra: “You don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start to be great!” But a little rest time is always allowed.
Many women resort to popping pills to beat cramps and discomfort, but at Hip & Healthy we prefer the natural way. PMS can be really bothersome and can make feel you grumpy and irritable, usually towards those closest to you, who bear the brunt of your hormone-fuelled hostility. We suggest yoga. Try viewing PMS, not as a low energy phase but a perfect time to reflect inward and work towards reducing pain and discomfort often associated with the menstrual cycle. Maybe during this reflective time, you might even realise it’s the hormones making you crazy, not the people around you!
We asked nutritionist and yoga instructor, Madeleine Shaw about doing yoga during your period; ‘Yoga is very relaxing and can help with period pains, a lovely soft hatha or gentle flow class is good and helps your body move without being uncomfortable. Forward folds are great for lower back pain and stomach cramps can be relieved by hugging the knees into the chest and rocking side to side. Just keep the body moving and energy flowing”.
Perfect time for stretching
Ok, let’s face it. We’re not always into thanking our body for helping us ‘cheat’ to workout at all times during our menstrual cycle. Sometimes we just need an excuse to stop. At H&H we never truly stop, so when we’re not up for a full on work out we make time to do the things we know we should and that our body needs. So for the days you’re just feeling too lethargic, get foam rolling and get stretching. Stretching muscles in your lower back and shoulder can help align your shoulders and improve your posture, stopping you from hunching over if you’re experiencing cramps. Stretching and foam rolling sore muscles can help speed up recovery and make it less painful for when you do feel back on your A game and want to return to your favourite HIIT class.