Exercising during your period

Many women tend to avoid the gym during their menstrual cycle. Many others want to continue exercising but are unsure if they should. The answer is YES you can exercise. In fact, several studies show that menstruating women feel better when they get moving. The more active you are the less cramping and less heavy flow you are likely to experience. Working out helps relieve symptoms that make getting your period such a hard thing.

When you sweat, water leaves the body, which can relieve uncomfortable belly bloat. Exercise also releases mood-boosting endorphins which can help take your mind off discomfort or pain. Recent studies also reveal a correlation between higher levels of physical fitness and fewer PMS symptoms.

For those who suffer from extreme cramps and feel really ill, don’t force yourself to exercise. Sometimes, your body just needs to rest. If you are simply unsure then try low impact workouts or simple walking.

For young girls the general concern is about staining during a workout. Using the right protection always helps. Additionally wear comfortable clothing. Dark coloured clothes and bike shorts under track pants also help.

The best workout for those who can is ‘High Intensity Interval Training’. When your period starts, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop because of which women can access carbohydrate/glycogen easily compared to high estrogen time periods. The hormonal shift makes fuel more accessible to your body to allow you to push harder and get more out of short but fast paced workouts than at other times of the month.

Try stretching and restorative yoga poses to help ease cramps such as cat pose and knee to chest pose. Avoid yoga poses like head stands, shoulder stands and other inverted poses. Pay attention to your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and gently.

As during other times, stay hydrated to prevent headaches and exhaustion. Eat light and balanced meals avoiding salty foods, too much sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Eating the right food also helps prevent sluggishness and depression. Diet rich in protein, calcium and iron is recommended, along with lots of water. Milk, aloe vera juice, honey and lemon water are great additions at this time.

All said, if you are really just not feeling up for it, take a day or two off. But if your period is sidelining you from most normal activities, it’s best to visit a doctor.

The author is a certified professional  fitness instructor, founder and master trainer at Rage Fitness and a fitness columnist who specialises in mixed  martial arts.