When your period comes, you may be tempted to skip your workouts, opting instead to stay home and watch Netflix while you munch on chocolate. While that is a perfectly valid option, you should know that working out on your period doesn’t have to be horrible. There are lots of things you can do to make it easier, and it even has some advantages over normal workouts. We have collected a few interesting things you should consider before you make any decisions about working out during that time of the month.
1. Working Out Can Alleviate Your Symptoms
Yes, you read that correctly. If you are more active overall, your periods will be lighter, and you will have less cramping. Working out during your period can reduce bloating, because you’ll be losing water through sweat. Plus, working out releases endorphins, which can make you feel better whether you’re on your period or not. Exercising and increasing your heartrate can be incredibly cathartic, which will help you deal with the symptoms you’re experiencing.
2. Staying Cool
Your body temperature is slightly lower during your period, which means you can stay cool during your workouts, and you run less risk of overheating. You can workout longer without getting worn out, and you can even withstand warmer temperatures that might normally make you uncomfortable. It seems strange that your period might actually increase your physical performance, but it’s true. As Spider-Man always says, great power comes with great responsibility. Use your superpowers for good, and hit the gym during your period.
3. Get Intense
It turns out that the best workout you can do during your period is high intensity interval training, or HIIT. Your estrogen and progesterone levels drop during your period, so you can access energy from carbohydrates more easily. Usually, the high amount of estrogen in your system forces your body to rely on slowly breaking down fat. With easier access to fuel, you can push your body harder and get superior results from short and intense workouts. Try fitting in a few HIIT workouts during your period to really maximize your efforts.
4. Avoid Pain
You’ve lived through enough periods to know how your body usually reacts to them. If you know you’re going to be in a lot of pain, take some painkillers ahead of time, especially if you’re going to be working out. As long as you’re safe with your use of medication, it is perfectly fine to take it preemptively. That way, you’ll have less pain when you go to the gym, and you can focus on getting a quality workout.
5. Wear a Pad or Tampon
By now you’ve probably heard of Kiran Gandhi, who ran the London Marathon during her period without a tampon. She practiced free-bleeding during her run, which resulted in menstrual blood running down her legs while she ran. She was sending an important message about people who don’t have access to feminine hygiene products, and her efforts are admirable. If you are working out in a shared space like a public gym, however, please do not free bleed. As you can probably imagine, it is not sanitary to allow your blood to get on the equipment in a gym.
You may have also heard that if you swim while you’re on your period, you won’t bleed into the water. That is only partially true. The pressure in the water may stop your flow, but any changes in that pressure could release your flow into the water. To avoid any mishaps, make sure you’re well-equipped with hygiene products before getting in the water (or working out anywhere in the gym, for that matter).
6. Go Easy On Yourself
If you just don’t feel like working out, don’t sweat it. Seriously. If you’d rather hang out inside and watch movies all day, do it. Giving yourself a break every once in a while is perfectly fine. If you can, try to at least do some light physical activity to reduce inflammation. Taking a short walk around the block or doing some easy stretches can help you stay active until you get back to your regular workout schedule.
Periods are unfortunate, but learning to deal with them is important. Working out on a regular basis is always a great way to make yourself feel stronger and more energetic, and that absolutely applies to your periods. Anything you can do to stay active and moving will make your periods less intense and less painful. Like I said, however, taking a break is just fine. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t think of it as a failure. Think of it as a reward for a job well done.