Cramps. Bloating. Nausea. Back pain. Dysmenorrhea is the most prevalent gynecological issue worldwide, afflicting over 80% of women of reproductive age. In severe cases, it could make any thought of exercise and excessive movement during your period seem like an arduous and even impossible task. However, working out while on your period could actually help alleviate symptoms.
Here’s all you need to know about exercising on your period:
Function over form is the idea to keep in mind when choosing workout clothes for when that time of the month arrives. ‘Workout Clothes For Different Purposes’ tackled the importance of comfort and fit, as your workout’s success could depend largely on what you’re wearing. If you’re feeling anxious about unforeseen leaks and stains, opt for darker clothing to mask these. You can even bring your own darker towels to the gym to place on exercise equipment to give you more peace of mind. Make sure you change your tampon right before hitting the gym and perhaps choose a sports tampon to avoid leaks. You can even wear a pad as well if your flow is especially heavy.
Low-intensity workouts that don’t cause too much exhaustion like yoga, brisk walking, or Pilates may be better. This also gives you a chance to wear more breathable fabrics like cotton, since you’re not likely to sweat too profusely. Remember to stretch afterward as this can also relieve additional soreness and back pain. Also, hydration is key to keeping your energy levels high.
Exercising can actually help manage a heavy flow. A Parsley Health post on how to regulate your period flow naturally explains that working out eliminates toxins through sweat and the lymphatic system, which in turn balances your menstrual cycle in a more efficient way. Bustle spoke to Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG who said that exercise releases endorphins, or “feel-good” chemicals which can actually minimize pain. This inhibits the production of prostaglandin, which is what causes cramps. A boost in endorphins may also combat levels of sluggishness and malaise. Exercise can likewise help balance hormone levels and lighten your flow.
Professional athletes have managed to overcome performing and competing on their periods, and so can you. Olympic silver medalist Devin Logan says that taking magnesium and calcium when Aunt Flo pays a visit helps her sleep well and mitigates her cramps. She also says that exercising on her period always makes her feel better. Even the smallest steps towards staying active on your period can make a difference. This is already an achievement in itself. Your period is a reminder that you can do anything – even while bleeding.