“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
– Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
You probably read the title and laughed out loud. I know I would have a few months ago. Work out? On my period?
Well, believe it folks because it is possible.
Not only that, it’s recommended.
‘What if I have cramps on my period?’ I hear you cry. Well, brace yourself. Working out is recommended even more when you have cramps. It helps.
It is hilarious to me, that I, of all people, am the one telling you about this, after all those years in middle school and high school glaring at my teachers when they said that skipping PhysEd wasn’t an option despite the fact that I was basically a hunchback because it felt like some awful Harry Potter-esque being was clawing its way through my stomach. “It will help”, they said. I didn’t believe it then, but now I think it’s true.
When I first started running, one of my concerns was that I would miss a few of my weekly workouts because of my period. I can honestly say that I have never missed a workout while on my period. And I know it’s not because I told myself, “No Femi, you have to do this”. I don’t remember ever having to do that.
I’m not sure which way it happened; if I had period cramps and worked out anyway, or if I managed to avoid cramps through working out. I will also say that I don’t play around with pain-meds when it’s that time of the month – I have a schedule for each and every pill, and I don’t miss them.
But back to working out during your period. How are you supposed to do it?
Don’t let cramps stop you
Stacy Sims, PhD, and exercise physiologist for USA Cycling Women’s Track Endurance Program, claims that the more active we are, the better our periods are – we’ll get less cramping, and a lighter flow.
There are also some exercises, such as Hot Yoga, which our nutritionist Lovisa swears by, that can help you relieve the pain from your cramps. You’ll get healthy, improve your fitness, and significantly reduce the pain in your abdomen, what’s to lose?
Make it part of your routine
If you’re like me, your period surprises you every month. You know it’s coming, but when you actually get the push notification through on your phone that winter is coming, you recoil in horror and fear. There is a benefit to this though. If generally speaking, you plan your workouts, then plan as normal, and just go. I think once you’re in the habit of going, it’s harder for you to miss it as you’re used to it. Do everything exactly the same way as if you weren’t on your period.
Dress to win
What you wear is important, not because you want to look good (even though that is an obvious priority), but because when you’re on your period you want to feel comfortable. Wear workout clothes that allow you to breathe (especially if you tend to bloat) and colors that are forgiving, just incase the unmentionable happens.
Your period might be the perfect time to push yourself that little bit harder or run that little bit further. Why? Well supposedly, on our periods, our oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease, making it faster for our bodies to breakdown carbohydrates and glycogen, so that they have more fuel and are able to push harder in tougher workouts.
Do it for the endorphins
I’m sure that you are a perfect angel and never experience any mood swings, sadness, or random anger at the hands of your period, but unfortunately this is not the case for me. But exercise can help with that. Elle Woods knew this “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” There is no mood-booster like the ‘I just worked out mood-booster’. You might not feel like it before, but by the end your beautiful, sweaty self will be on a special kind of high that has to be experienced to be believed.
Take it easy
Last but not least. If you really, really feel like you can’t do it, then don’t. It’s important to listen to your body and know what you’re capable of. And also think about which exercise to do, if you normally feel like you’re going to throw up during CrossFit, then maybe doing it on your period isn’t the best idea.
If you absolutely must work out, but can’t manage your usual workout, take it easy. Lovisa recommends taking the dog for a walk, doing some light cleaning around the house, or going shopping with friends – all of these are just as much exercise as anything else. There’s more than one way to exercise and get healthy.
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