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Struggling To Exercise During Your Period? Here Are Our Top Tips to Help You Stay on Track

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Struggling To Exercise During Your Period? Here Are Our Top Tips to Help You Stay on Track

Before we get into our top tips it’s important you understand what your menstrual cycle is and how it can affect you along the way.

What is your menstrual cycle?

Your menstrual cycle is broken down into 4 phases:
1. The follicular phase

2. Ovulation

3. The luteal phase

4. Menstruation

The follicular phase starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation (around day 14).  At this point Oestrogen is the dominant hormone. Many women report they find working out ‘easier’ at this time compared to other phases of their cycle. Their mood, motivation and adherence to exercise and eating healthy can appear higher as well.

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary. This usually occurs mid-cycle, around two weeks before menstruation starts. Testosterone is high in this phase so many women report being stronger and having improved performance during this section of the cycle.

Next is the luteal phase. During ovulation, the egg bursts from its follicle, but the ruptured follicle stays on the surface of the ovary. For the next two weeks or so, the follicle transforms into a structure known as the corpus luteum. This structure starts releasing progesterone (linked to increase in hunger in some women), along with small amounts of oestrogen. In this phase, hunger cravings usually increase due to a slight rise in metabolic rate. If this sounds familiar, it can be a good idea to factor in an extra snack or 2 ,such as fruit, vegetable sticks or high protein snacks such as eggs or tofu. Serotonin also drops at this time, which is believed to be the main driver in PMS or PDD. This can also explain some women’s increase ‘need’ for carbohydrates and ‘comfort food’. These types of food can boost the level of serotonin in the body. If the need for ‘comfort food’ or something sweet is strong try a couple of squares or a fun sized bar of chocolate.   

During this phase many women report a decrease in performance, strength and coordination. Therefore, if you feel as if you are struggling at this point in your cycle please don't feel demotivate - just keep going and know that it will pass.

 

Heavy or painful periods

Many of us suffer with heavy or painful periods (or both) which can make us feel groggy, drained of energy and generally quite rubbish. But when we experience them so regularly, so much of the time we just have to get on with things even when we don’t feel like it. Work, the demands of children, life laundry and social events don’t stop because we have our period (sadly).

But one thing that might take a hit when we’re suffering each month is exercise. If we’re experiencing cramps, tiredness, a low mood, tearfulness or a heavy flow, the last thing we might feel like doing is jumping up and down, working up a sweat or lifting heavy weights. 

However, exercise can be beneficial in helping to relieve some of the symptoms we can suffer when we’re menstruating, such as cramps, a lack of energy and feeling blue. 

So, here’s our tips on getting into your exercise groove when all you really want to get into is your pyjamas and the biscuit tin.

  • Prepare for exercise by taking painkillers an hour or so before you plan to work out. That way, your cramps, backache or headache will hopefully feel relieved when you start. (It’ll also make you more likely to actually start.)
  • Choose a gentler form of exercise such as yoga on your worst days. If you really don’t feel like doing aerobic exercise or strength training, yoga is ideal. Yoga has multiple benefits to your fitness regime, helps to relieve cramps by stretching the abdomen and promotes a calmer, clearer mind.
  • That said, if you feel like it, try to do a strength training workout. Our short, snappy Toned in 10 workouts are ideal for keeping up with your training in just ten minutes. Meaning that you can indulge in that hot bubble bath far sooner.
  • If you’re concerned about leaking through your clothes, make sure you change your tampon, pad or menstrual cup just before you exercise to minimise the risk. Exercising at home with Own Your Goals means that you won’t need to worry as much as working out in a gym, but if you’re worried, wear dark clothing with a long, loose fitting t shirt over fitted leggings that help to hold everything in place.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water (around two litres a day) to stay hydrated. This will help to energise you (there’s nothing like dehydration to sap away energy) and will also help you to get rid of the bloating and water retention we can suffer around the time of our period. This will also make us more likely to actually want to exercise too.
  • Don’t berate yourself if you feel like your workout wasn’t as powerful or beneficial as you’d like it to be. Instead, celebrate the fact that you got up, represented and did it when you really didn’t feel like it. You’re awesome!

 

 

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