Benefits of exercising throughout your menstrual cycle

You may feel low on energy at the start of your period and women often don’t really feel like doing any physical activity. But there is a growing consensus that exercise during your period can help alleviate menstrual symptoms, to date, there is no evidence to suggest any negative effects or health risks from working out during your period.

Can boost your mood and combat PMS

Mood swings and PMS can range from experiencing debilitating anxiety to minor depression. While some women might not experience any mood changes, others might have a puzzling feeling of being down around the time of their period.

Either way, it’s common to experience a shift in mood due to hormones but don’t let that put you off. Did you know that when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain? These reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body, ‘the runners high’. Studies have shown that people experiencing depression benefit from exercise as it decreases levels of depression and boosts the mood.

Enhances blood circulation and ease menstrual cramps

Enhanced cardiovascular fitness and the stress reducing benefits of exercise along with endorphins (which reduce pain perception) can all reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.

Fights fatigue and headaches

During the first days of your period, your body needs more rest and sleep always combine exercise with giving your body time to rest. That said, if you can motivate yourself to exercise it will result in you feeling more energised and awake, and subsequently help you get a good night’s sleep.

Helps regulate irregular periods naturally

If you have irregular periods or your period is overdue, a healthy diet combined with keeping up your activity levels particularly in the days before you expect your period can help your menstrual cycle get back on track.

Enhanced performance

Low hormones during this time often result in peak performance. Paula Radcliffe infamously had her period when she broke the world record at the Chicago Marathon in 2002. Many studies find that women are faster and stronger during their period when female hormone levels are at their lowest point in the menstrual cycle.

Is there any exercise you should avoid during your period?

Reassuringly studies to date have found no negative consequences from exercising during a period. There is some debate regarding whether women should avoid being inverted during their period such as doing Yoga head or shoulder stands. The consensus is that while it may go against the philosophy of some schools there is no medical reason for healthy women to avoid inversions. Ultimately, it is up to the the individual women to assess their circumstances and decide what is right for her.

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