We’ve heard a lot of people say ‘don’t work out during your periods,’ ‘it will strain your body,’ ‘you will not have energy, it is not good for the body’.. and so goes the list. But what if exercising during ‘that time of the month’ is actually more beneficial for you and in fact – you can plan your workout regime accordingly.
Let’s first start with understanding the menstrual cycle:
It starts on the first day of the period and ends when the next one begins. It’s primarily divided into the follicular phase and luteal phase but also consists of the ovulation phase.
Menstruation: Day 1 – Day 5 (this could vary from one person to another)
Follicular Phase: Day 1 – Day 14
Luteal Phase: Day 15 – Day 28
The ovulation occurs around day 14.
Our hormones namely – Estrogen, Progesterone & Testosterone fluctuate throughout the month and knowing this will only help you understand why our energy, mood, hunger etc is varied throughout the month. This obviously means that your performance during workouts also change. But that’s on the hormones and not on you.
Planning your workouts
Menstruation: Trust me, on the day you get your period, you barely feel like moving. During this time, the body’s estrogen & progesterone levels are at their lowest. You might feel extremely tired, bloated, cramps and fatigue. While Ice cream and Netflix will help, how about, the next time you try and take a walk at least? But hey, don’t stop there. Depending on how you’re feeling, get a low-to-moderate intensity workout done. Yoga, low intensity cardio or even light-er strength training can be done during this time. Avoid going “all out” during these days since the body is undergoing a lot of stress and we can cut some slack.
Follicular Phase: Once the menstruation is done, the hormone levels start to rise back up as the days pass. The period’s done and your energy levels are better too. Use this time to focus on progress or higher intensity workouts. The body’s threshold to pain is higher now. Get in the lifting, HIIT, cardio and everything else done. Go get that PR – Challenge yourself – maybe even try something new. If you’re starting a workout plan, or a new cycle in the program – now would be a good time.
Luteal Phase: Then come the days when your energy levels slowly start to decline. And even household chores start to seem tiring. Getting your workout done can get slightly difficult and things you normally do can be challenging. Hold back, reduce the intensity by a little. But continue with your workouts But wait, what about the days just before your period? When you’ve neither got the energy nor the will? PMS!
Mood swings can be such a pain. And also with all the cramps, the mind just seems thrown off balance. During this time – even if you don’t feel like it, all you need to know is that you need to get a training session in to feel better. These few points below tell you why you should workout and they apply whether PMS or not. But definitely more during the dreaded time.
Exercising releases “happy hormones” namely – Dopamine and serotonin. You know that “Workout High” after you’ve had a great workout. Yeah – it’s those endorphins doing it’s job. And it’s no different when Aunt Flo gives you a visit. These hormones can elevate your mood, make you feel better and give you that “high”. These hormones also act as a natural pain killer and hence making it less unbearable.
Cramps can be different for everyone. For some – absolutely unbearable and for some it’s even negligible or non-existent. Guess what, exercising can help here too – I just did say ‘Natural Pain-killer,’ didn’t I? Even the slightest of exercise can help with your cramps. Many say stick to light exercises or maybe just walk, do pilates/yoga and steer clear of weight training or intense exercises during your period. While it is a subjective matter and could differ from one to another, for most people, it is beneficial to do any and all kinds of workouts but yet – Listen to your body
Feeling like your energy levels are absolutely low? Take a day off
Feeling like you’re full of energy and can conquer the world? Lift the weights, run faster, crush the workouts.
Feeling like you have energy but not adequate? Do some yoga, go for a walk, or even dance maybe.
Feeling overwhelmed? Meditate or do some yoga.
It doesn’t have to be “This” or “That”
(Spoorthi, Fitness Expert, Cult.fit)