Can exercise help you have a better period?
We know that when you’re on your period, it can be tempting to hibernate on the sofa, but the truth is that exercise can actually help you have a better period and minimise your least favourite menstrual symptoms. Here’s how…
The hormonal changes that happen at the end of your luteal phase and as you move into your bleed can play havoc with your serotonin levels. That’s why you might notice you’re struggling with low mood, anxiety and reduced self-esteem. One great thing you can do for serotonin is to boost your endorphin production - and exercise does just that! Endorphins trigger positive feelings within the body, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.
One study found that women struggling with PMS who did 60-minute aerobic sessions three times a week for 8 weeks felt much improved physically, mentally, and most importantly for PMS - emotionally.
Cramps and pain
The other great thing about endorphins is that they help to relieve pain. Getting your body moving during your period can help you pump these endorphins into your body which provides pain relief by helping to cycle out the prostaglandins that cause muscle contractions.
Stretching can also help to relieve menstrual cramps by opening up your muscles and stopping them from contracting around your uterus. When we are on our period our uterus can feel very full and this pressure can increase the pain and inflammation we’re experiencing. Getting moving can help to encourage blood flow away from the pelvis and relieve some of that pressure.
Many of us will find that around our periods we become bloated - which is never a fun thing. This bloating is caused by inflammation and water retention - two things that exercise can help with by getting your circulation going. Working out can help to get your digestive moving, removing excess gas and salt which are two big contributing factors to bloat.
Regulating your cycle
There are many reasons that your cycle might be irregular - from stress to PCOS - but generally speaking, a sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate any of these issues. Regular exercise helps your body to function at its healthiest - and that includes keeping the hormones involved in your menstrual cycle working as they should.
On the flip side, over-exercising can also cause your periods to become irregular or stop altogether - and this can sometimes be an issue for athletes It’s all about balance - try to lead an active lifestyle that makes you feel good, but try not to push yourself too hard.
Best exercises to do on your period
So exercise can be very helpful for your period, but what are the best exercises to do when you’re bleeding? This might not be the time to go all in on an intense HIIT workout, but there are plenty of low-impact ways to get moving.
Brisk walking or other low-impact cardio
To get the feel-good benefits of endorphins you need to get the heart pumping - but that doesn’t mean you need to do 50 burpees. A brisk 30-minute walk (or an enthusiastic dance around your kitchen) is enough to get your heart rate up. A top tip is to get to a point where your breathing is heavy enough that you would struggle to have a conversation.
Yoga and Pilates
These low-impact exercises are great for stretching out your aching muscles and opening up your pelvis. They are also perfect for reducing stress and giving your mind and body time and space to relax during your bleed.
You may not feel super energised at the start of your period, so more static, slow-burn exercises can be a great way to continue working out without putting too much pressure on yourself. If you like lifting weights, there’s no reason to stop on your period - but you might want to reduce the amount of weight you are using or the number of reps in each set.
We know that sometimes fear of leaks can put you off exercising on your period - but with all these benefits we don’t want that to happen! That’s why we created our leak-free, VPL-free period underwear that is perfect for your gym kit. Learn more here!