Working Out On Your Period: 5 Tips from a Female Running Coach
Sometimes being a female just plain sucks, doesn’t it? If you have ever woken up with terrible cramps and wondered how you were going to make it through the day, you know exactly what I am referring to. It can be frustrating, can’t it? Worrying that your intense training might be sidelined as you struggle through the rough periods of the menstrual cycle seems unfair.
However, statistically speaking, you may be surprised at how much you can do to work through your period. Believe it or not, exercise is probably the best thing for you! And no, I am not a man who has never lived through this telling you to just push through the discomfort. Nope!
As a woman, I have worked through it and lived to tell about it. Speaking from experience, here is my best advice for you.
Is It Okay To Work Out On Your Period?
It is absolutely okay to work out on your period. In fact, there is an awful lot of research out there to point you toward getting your workout in rather than skipping it. Of course, if you are simply miserable and decide to give yourself grace, that isn’t necessarily the worse thing in the world.
A missed session now and then won’t sabotage your workout. However, there is not a scientific reason to skip it, either. There are actually many benefits to getting your sweat on while menstruating.
4 Reasons Why to Workout On Your Period
If you were looking for an excuse to skip the workout you are in the wrong blog. Here we will talk about all the reasons to work out while you are on your period.
- Less PMS Symptoms: You read that right! You can actually decrease your PMS symptoms if you work out during the days leading up to your period. That includes irritability, bloating, fatigue and mood swings. Get a workout in and see if it helps!
- Get Stronger: Studies actually show that for 10-14 days starting on day one of your period, you may be more likely to gain strength. That is a fantastic reason to jump into some strength training rather than crawl into bed.
- Mood Improvement: Exercise releases endorphins that can help you feel better overall. Working out is a great way to pull you out of that funk anytime, including when struggling with the menstrual ickies.
- Decrease Cramps: Although all women are different, many women report that exercise helps them to combat cramping. If vigorous aerobic exercise is just too much, try brisk walking or some other form of cardio. If running is too much, just ratchet it down a notch and see what happens.
Which Exercise Is Good During Periods?
So the first rule of thumb is probably way too obvious but here goes. The best exercise to do during your period is one you are extremely motivated to do. If you love to run, you might be best off running. However, if you aren’t feeling a run, think about doing something else.
While we advocate exercise during your cycle, we don’t think all people are created equally. Each body needs something a little different.
If you normally run and your schedule calls for a challenging track workout, but you wake up cramping, bloating and feeling just plain yucky, you might benefit from switching days. Maybe a longer, easier run would be easier to handle.
Pushing yourself through a tough workout when you aren’t feeling well can make you completely miserable. There is no need to do that unless you are on a very tight training schedule.
Easy jogging or brisk walking are great things to try. See how that goes. If you start out jogging easily and start to feel better, you can always pick it up a little.
Mixing up your cardio with some strength might be a great thing to try when on your period. Keep in mind that your body benefits from mixing things up. As athletes, we should never let ourselves fall into a lull where we do all of one thing, or consistently exercise at the same steady intensity.
Some women get super stressed out during certain parts of their cycle. Use that as an opportunity to practice some yoga. Getting yourself into a relaxed place can only help your body!
Are There Exercises to Avoid?
Yes and no. If you are able to hammer through a tough workout when having your period, more power to you. Most doctors are in agreement that for a few days during most women’s cycles, it is not a bad idea to avoid super intense activities.
That should not be used as an excuse to sit on your butt! I said avoid super intense activities, not eat chocolate and nap. Just taking it down a notch or two works for most women.
If you are a very heavy bleeder, you definitely may notice that you need to take it easier than other women who do not bleed as heavily. Remember this is just how your body is. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. It is impossible to know how another woman’s body reacts to menstruating.
You may notice that your perceived exertion is higher than normal. Don’t beat yourself up. This is normal for many women.
Can Exercise Make Your Period Heavier?
Typically, exercise has the opposite effect. Believe it or not, exercise usually makes women’s menstrual cycle calm down if anything.
Should You Exercise or Run with a Tampon or Pad?
There is no “best practice” here. This is truly up to the athlete and person. If you are more comfortable using a tampon, you should. Same for pads. For that matter, many women have embraced menstrual cups or discs.
Personally, I found pads to be uncomfortable during exercise. That certainly does not mean I have the right answer, though. What is most important is that you are comfortable.
This means physical comfort, but it also should mean you feel confident and are not worried about leaking. Whatever form of personal device keeps you happy as you exercise during your period, you should use it.
5 Tips From A Female Running Coach
There are other things to consider if you are going to exercise while on your period.
- Hydrate: Hydration is always important. It is especially so during this time. Proper hydration can help you to reduce bloat and avoid constipation.
- Stretch: Stretching is a great way to work out the kinks, and it may help with your cramping.
- OTC Pain Management: You can take some type of over-the-counter pain management medication to help you handle the cramping.
- Carry Period Protection: Unless you are staying super close to home, carry some type of period protection to help you in case you get breakthrough bleeding. Here is where tampons are super convenient as they can fit in a running belt.
- Give Yourself Grace: On the one hand, you are hearing me say repeatedly that your cycle is not an excuse to lie on the couch and chain eat chocolates. On the other hand, you do need to give yourself grace if you are feeling crappy. One or two workouts won’t kill your workout mojo.
During your next period, be kind to yourself, ladies. Don’t be lazy….but do be kind.