Effective Training

Should You Exercise On Your Period?

Written By: Kripa Jalan

Should You Exercise On Your Period?

Many fit women often lose their menstrual period when training hard or dieting to lose fat. While some think it’s common, it’s certainly not normal.

Unless you’re planning on starting a family, infertility and losing your period might seem like no big deal. In fact, it might seem like a nice break.

Hold on. Remember that your period isn’t just about pregnancy. Rather, it’s a side effect of normal hormonal health.

In other words, losing your period or having significant irregular periods means that something is “off” hormonally.

In today’s article, we explore why losing your period can be a negative thing. We also share some tips on staying lean and fit while maintaining your hormonal health.

Understanding the menstrual cycle

Every month, one of the ovaries releases an egg.

Simultaneously, the uterus prepares for pregnancy through a series of hormonal changes.

First, a hormone named gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GRH) is sent to the pituitary gland from the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland then releases the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).

These then travel to the ovaries and signal them to make estrogen and progesterone (the amounts depend on which phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in.)

If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is what most people call a “period”.

What is a normal menstrual cycle?

While this can vary amongst women, it’s important to know in general what a normal menstrual cycle should look like.

  • A normal period cycle lasts 26-32 days. The goal is consistency each month.
  • While you may feel some heaviness or slight sensation in your lower abdomen, cramping that consistently requires hot water bottles or medications is not normal.
  • The colour would be bright red to cranberry color with no heavy clotting from beginning to end.
  • The menstrual bleeding itself could last anywhere from 4-7 days. As you approach your 20s and 30s the amount of menstrual bleeding you experience should start to decrease.

Can exercise help?

Exercise is often the last thing anyone wants to do when they’re on their period, and there are various myths about it in general. But doing some light exercise on your period has been proven to alleviate many symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

Syncing exercise with your menstrual cycle

  • Weeks 1 & 2: Your period cycle begins on day one, the first day of your period, with the follicular phase, which is about 14–16 days. During this phase, you’re able to tolerate more carbohydrates and more stressful workouts.
  • Week 4 (Before your period): The second half of your cycle is called the luteal phase. During this phase, do fewer stress-inducing activities and more stress-reducing activities like walking and yoga.
  • Week 3: This is a hybrid of weeks 1, 2 and 4.

Best exercises to do on your period

‘Best’ is a relative term. For some resting may be what’s best for them. For others, it’s better to do the exercises you can tolerate, that are good for your body, and that you like to do. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Walking
  • Light cardio or aerobic exercise
  • Gentle strength training
  • Gentle stretching and balancing

If you feel unusually fatigued, or nauseous, or there is an increase in pain or discomfort, stop what you are doing and rest. If these symptoms continue, stop completely. Ignore the saying “no pain, no gain.” Listen to your body.