Your period makes you feel bloated and uncomfortable, and it zaps your energy. Exercise might help relieve some of this discomfort, and it can help undo the damage from any chocolate cravings you indulged. Changing hormone levels can affect your performance and stamina. Although there are no set rules on exercise and menstruation, some strategies might help make exercising during your period more comfortable and effective.
Even if you do not feel like exercising, go to the gym, and start your workout. Often, after 10 minutes, you feel energized and are able to complete your planned session. If you still cannot get motivated, give yourself permission to call off your workout for the day.
Be Kind to Your Body
If you really feel lousy, be gentle on your body. Try a restorative yoga class or a gentle swim instead of hitting the track for your planned sprint session. Yoga poses might help relieve cramps. Swimming provides a feeling of buoyancy and provides support for your back, which might be aching.
Endurance athletes react differently to the hormonal influctions that come with their periods. In an article published in the journal “Clinical Sports Medicine” in 2005, researchers from Tel-Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine concluded that too few studies exist to draw a specific conclusion about improved or decreased performance at various times throughout the menstrual cycle. The lead author, N.W. Constantini, said there is much variability among individuals and their athletic response to hormone production. The article concluded that using oral contraceptives might help female athletes who are seriously compromised by their menstrual cycles because they provide a stable and predictable delivery of hormones. If your period puts a damper on your race performance, consider scheduling big events that avoid your time of the month.
Wear a Tampon
Wearing a tampon instead of a sanitary pad prevents leakage during exercise. Tampons also are less bulky and stay put during twists and turns in yoga or sports competitions. If you are unable to wear a tampon, choose thin, absorbent pads that can be attached to your undergarments to minimize pad movement.
About this Author
With degrees from Princeton and Columbia University, Andrea Cespedes is also a professionally trained chef and has focused studies in nutrition. With over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer.