Aside from the physical benefits, working out during your period helps counterbalance the mental and emotional side effects of hormonal fluctuations. Here, five reasons why you shouldn’t avoid exercising the next time Aunt Flo comes around.
1 Your workouts reap better results than usual
Sounds crazy, but don’t take it from us, take it from Stacy Sims, exercise physiologist for the USA Cycling Women’s Track Endurance Program and co-author of Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life. In it, she singles out how a woman’s exercise physiology resembles a man’s during her period, which means it’s a good time to work on achieving signiﬁcant gains in strength and other goals. Backing her up is a 2016 Swedish study that revealed that training during the ﬁrst two weeks of your menstrual cycle gives you bigger increases in muscle strength, power and mass.
2 Exercise helps ﬁght the bloat
It’s really not you; it’s the hormones – more speciﬁcally, ﬂuctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels – that bring about the bloat. While avoiding foods that cause gas (beans, cabbage, brussel sprouts) helps, exercising during your period produces actual results. Doing some cardio instantly helps digestion, which reduces constipation and brings relief from bloating.
3 You feel and sleep better
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and seratonin, chemicals that help bust the blues and boost your overall feel-good factor. At the very least, a short workout session will help bring on a better night of sleep and more energy the day after.
4 Your body handles heat better
As the start of the follicular phase is a low-hormone phase, your body temperature is lower than usual during your period. This means heat-based or outdoor workouts may feel easier to do. So if you’ve been putting off trying out hot yoga, this is the time to give it a go.
5 Exercise alleviates back aches
Lower-back pain is common during the time of the month. Rather than just slap on a muscle pain relief plaster, consider working through it. Core work could help strengthen the muscles in the lower back and ease any discomfort there, shares Princess Lai, a yoga instructor at Freedom Yoga. Try Navasana, an accessible and uncomplicated yoga pose for core strength that involves leg lifts as well as forward folds that easy tightness in the lower back. She also suggests vinyasa yoga “to get the heart rate up and improve blood circulation”.