Working out and your menstrual cycle

Did you know? Your exercise routine and menstrual health are directly related.

Your menstrual cycle and energy levels go hand-in-hand, so by understanding how energy levels change throughout the four menstrual cycle phases, you can alter your workouts to best suit you. 

In this blog, we’ll dive into how physical activity and your menstrual cycle are related. Let's also learn about what exercises are good for you during each phase of the menstrual cycle.  

what are the benefits of exercise during periods? 

There are many benefits of exercising at the various different stages of your menstrual cycle, including your period.

While we all know that exercise releases endorphins and helps lift your mood, working out during your period can help balance your hormone levels and be beneficial for you in many ways. These include: 

  • Regulating your mood 
  • Reducing period cramps 
  • Making your period more consistent
  • Experiencing lighter periods
  • Less fatigue 

how does exercise benefit you during your period? 

During your period your body has a higher amount of progesterone - which can cause fatigue, anxiety and lower energy than usual. 

Exercising or any physical activity will help your body release endorphins, which reduces stress, relieves pain and improves your mood. So exercising during your period is very beneficial. 

When you exercise your body also releases water - including water that has been built up in your belly and makes you feel bloated.  

Exercising can also help release tension and contractions that your pelvic muscles will experience during menstruation - this helps ease period cramps. 

Now that we’ve learnt about how exercise and your menstrual cycle are related. 

menstrual cycle phases and fitness

We know that exercising on your period has many benefits, but are you wondering what exercises you should do according to your menstrual cycle phases? Well let's find out exercise tips for different cycle phases

what exercises are good for you during the menstruation phase? 

During your menstruation phase your body is likely to experience symptoms such as period cramps, mood swings and discomfort. So it’s completely normal to find your usual workout routine a little more difficult to do during periods - as your body is bleeding and going through a lot at this time! 

Keeping in mind various period symptoms you may be facing, it’s helpful to stick to a light workout routine during periods.

This can include: 

  • Walking
  • A light jog
  • Yoga 
  • Low-to-medium intensity aerobic exercises 
  • Stretching
  • Swimming 

That being said, the most important thing is to listen to your body. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in doing a higher intensity workout while you're on your period if you’re up to it. Just stick to what your body is comfortable with. 

what exercises are recommended for the follicular phase? 

Your follicular phase is when you’ve just finished your period. During this time your oestrogen levels start rising, causing you to feel happier and more energised. 

  • High intensity exercises like HIIT 
  • Strength training with heavier weights 
  • Higher intensity cardio like running, dancing etc. 

what exercises should you include in your workout routine during the ovular phase? 

Similar to the follicular phase, your body is likely to experience high energy during the ovular phase. 

During the ovular phase your body experiences a peak in oestrogen levels, causing higher energy levels. 

So it’s great to make the most of this higher energy during your ovular phase and do high intensity workouts. This can include more intensive cardio, heavier weights and HIIT workouts.

what exercises should you do in the luteal phase? 

It’s natural to experience a reduction in energy during your follicular phase as your body has just ovulated and is low on oestrogen. During this phase you might feel less energetic - which is completely natural! This phase is a good time to do: 

  • Low impact exercises 
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Swimming 
  • Body-weight focused exercises 

frequently asked questions

Is it important to take rest days during menstruation

The most important thing to do is listen to your body. 

If you are someone who experiences severe cramps and discomfort, then it makes sense for you to take rest days from exercising while you’re on your period. 

Can exercise start your period early? 

While working out doesn’t cause your period to come early, if you are implementing a new exercise routine it can change your hormonal balance - and as a result you may initially experience changes in your period. This can include earlier and lighter periods. 

If you haven't had any major lifestyle changes but are experiencing early periods, please consult a doctor to understand any underlying conditions that may be causing this. 

Should I workout on the first day of my period? 

This entirely depends on how you’re feeling on the first day of your period. For some people the first few days can involve experiencing painful cramps and require rest to feel better. 

However, it’s completely safe to exercise on any day of your period and depends from person-to-person.

How much exercise causes missed periods?

It’s very rare for exercise to cause missed periods. However this can happen if you are over-exercising and consuming more energy than your body is producing. 

Does exercise reduce period flow? 

Yes, regular exercise can help regulate your periods, reduce period symptoms and make your flow lighter. 

Exercising regularly can also cause weight loss, which in-turn causes lighter periods. 

Is it okay to do a high-intensity workout during your period

There’s no right or wrong way to exercise while you’re on your period. 

The most important thing is to listen to your body and be mindful of any discomfort you may be facing during periods.