When it’s that time of the month, exercising can be a grueling task. The last thing you feel like doing is dragging yourself off the couch, especially if you have bad cramps. What you may not know is that your hormone levels can affect how you feel physically and mentally, and can also affect your strength and stamina. Because regular exercise is good for you on all levels, it’s usually a bad idea to kick your feet up and swear off working out because of your period. Here are some helpful tips and exercises to keep you in tip top shape during menstruation.
Yoga is one the best exercises you can do on your period mainly because of the intensive stretching movements. It’s also usually a relaxing endeavor—try a hot yoga class and focus on your breathing. Many yoga instructors even include a slight bit of meditation at the end of each class for a relaxing finish to your workout.
Though jumping into a pool may not be the first idea that comes to your head when thinking of exercising on your period, water exercise can be very easy on the body. Swimming can be a great way to get in a bit of endurance training and cardio without overdoing things, and the floating allows for stretched out movements that aren’t jerky or require an excessive amount of strength.
Walking on Incline
Heavy cardio and endurance training like running can be cramp-inducing and hard on your body. Studies show that your lung function is also better closer to the end of your cycle—before your period. Walking on its own can feel like it’s not challenging enough, so try out a new form of walking. Turn up your treadmill so that it’s on an extreme incline, and walk at a slow and comfortable pace. It will work your leg muscles and have you working up a slow sweat that is not too intense.
Pilates, like yoga, focuses on stretching and requires an exercise ball for many of the positions. While this may seem daunting to you on your period, the ball can assist in gently stretching the areas of your lower stomach that are prone to cramping. Include some positions that involve lying face down, which can alleviate cramping.
You can try outdoor cycling if you’d like, but indoor cycling allows you a bit more control as to the intensity of the exercise. A bit of cardio is great for you, but obviously you don’t want to overdo it and put too much stress on your body if you’re not feeling your best. Cycle on a manageable resistance, and work your way up as you feel comfortable.
Taylor Stinson co-authors Toronto-based lifestyle blog, The Girls on Bloor.