As a women’s only trainer, one question I get asked a LOT is whether you can exercise during your period.
I love that women feel like this is something they can ask questions about and discuss openly.
Talking about the menstrual cycle and things like menstrual cramps is really important as it’s an everyday reality for ALL women! While menstruation has been a taboo topic in the past, I believe women should be educated about what to do when you have your period — and then we can make informed decisions about our health and fitness based on the best available information.
Should I exercise during my period?
The first thing to understand about periods is that every woman has a different experience. It might even be different from month to month!
You CAN exercise if you feel up to it. If your symptoms are minimal, you may feel like training as normal, and there’s no reason to stop training if that’s the case.
If you have really heavy periods, menstrual cramps or feel bloated, exercise may be uncomfortable or unrealistic for a few days. When I have my period, I usually have a couple of days when I feel unwell. I won’t train for those days, and I rest until I feel better!
The decision is going to come down to how YOU feel when you have your period.
However, if you experience changes to your period symptoms or have severe cramping, you should see your doctor who will be able to advise you if there are any health issues you need to address.
Should I modify workouts during my period?
If you feel up to exercising during your period, it’s possible that you might feel like you’re not training at full capacity.
That’s completely normal!
Hormonal changes during menstruation could be one reason you might not feel at your best. Some women may also experience lower blood pressure when training.
The best way to tackle this is to lower the intensity of your training. Try using lighter weights or reducing your perceived exertion for each exercise.
Of course, if you start to feel really fatigued, you should stop your workout and return to exercise when you feel stronger.
Some exercises you can try during your period
There are ways you can stay active if you don’t want to do a high-intensity workout.
You could try doing one of the BBG or BBG Stronger recovery workouts in the SWEAT app.
It might also be a good day to do a LISS workout (low-intensity steady state) rather than resistance training.
If I don’t feel like training when I have my period, I’ll often find other ways to be productive — I’ll clean my sneakers, cook or wash my workout gear. I might also use the time to take a rest day.
Benefits of exercise during your period
For some women, exercise during periods may help to alleviate mild cramping, as their endorphins — which are a natural painkiller — get a boost from working out.
But the best way to decide if you should exercise during your period is by listening to your body.
If you decide not to work out during your period, there are still things you can do to improve your periods.
Your diet may also help to improve your symptoms. Some of the best foods to eat during your period include: spinach, broccoli, salmon, dark chocolate, wholegrains, bananas and eggs.
Exercise during the rest of your menstrual cycle — the days you DON’T have your period — may actually help to reduce symptoms associated with your period.
This is because exercise may boost your sense of wellbeing and help reduce hormonal fluctuations when your period arrives.
Find out what works for you and your period
Looking after your menstrual health isn’t just about your period. There are lots of things you can do for your health throughout your whole cycle, including exercise and making sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet.
However, don’t feel pressured to exercise or get upset if you have to rest when you have your period — it’s totally normal!
It’s all about paying attention to how you feel, and making sure you’re doing what is right for YOU!