If you’re worried about how your period will affect your fitness routine, you’re not alone. For many reasons, a lot of women skip their workouts during this time of the month. But there’s really no reason to miss out on the exercise just because you’re on your period. It is better to do the exercises that you enjoy and that are good for your body; there are some that might even help to combat the pain!
Learn How Your Cycle Affects You
If the first few days of your period are difficult, take it easy on yourself. To create the best routine for your body, you’ve got to become BFFs with your cycle. When you start trying to learn about your own cycle and how it affects you, having a written guide to talk you through step-by-step can be really useful. One book that we have found to offer great guidance is ‘In the FLO: A 28-day plan working with your monthly cycle to do more, and stress less’. This best-seller teaches you how to optimise your life, letting natural rhythms guide you rather than ruin your plans.
Why Exercising Can Help the Pain
Statistics show that around nine out of every ten women in the UK suffer from PMS. Exercise can tap into your endorphins, activating a natural painkiller and elevating your mood. Saying that, both your progesterone and oestrogen levels are at their lowest during your period, making you feel drained (lucky us!). So we are not suggesting that you try running a marathon, but a little bit of gentle movement on some of your period days is bound to lighten your mood and help you to feel a bit more in control of your body.
Now, probably the last thing you want to do is squeeze your bloated body into a swimsuit when it’s that time of the month, but swimming is one of the gentlest exercises you can do. Research shows that swimming can ease physical PMS symptoms, and submerging your senses into water is also a great mood-lifter, so totally worth the effort!
But don’t ignore the post-swim appetite - treat yourself to a tasty snack on the way home. Our favourite at the moment is the organic ‘Nakd’ snack bars. Completely cold-pressed, gluten, wheat and dairy-free, they come in loads of flavours and also count towards one of your five a day! Make your taste buds happy and try one – you won’t be disappointed.
Walking in the Wild
Studies have found that reconnecting with nature reduces stress on your mind and body. If you’re wanting to play it safe with the exercise, opt for some light cardio. Walking doesn’t require any special equipment, you can take as much time as you need and adjust your speed however you like. So, lace up your favourite trainers and hit the road for a stroll. Why not plan a little stop in the middle to take a rest, pack a bottle of water and some reading material?
Connect with Your Body
Triggered hormonal changes can lead to added stress on your mental health. Yoga is the perfect at-your-own-pace activity, relaxing your muscles and balancing brain chemicals. Studies have found that yoga is able to significantly reduce moderate to severe pain caused by the menstrual cycle.
One of the best yoga exercises to try on your period is the ‘Cobbler’s Pose’ which opens the pelvic region to help your lower body muscles loosen. You can stay in this pose for several minutes and feel those negative emotions float away. Use this time to really connect with how your body is feeling and try to let go of any unnecessary tension. If you’re already feeling zen and want to take your stress-free period one step further, use this moment of calm to take a long bath. Relax your muscles and let yourself feel pampered, your body will thank you for it.
No Need to Gym
You shouldn’t feel obliged to leave the house, if you don’t want to - It’s 2021! If you’re feeling like you can’t face the world, a home workout is great for those extra emotional or anxious days. For a little extra inspiration or motivation, there are lots of professional trainers that now have their own YouTube videos; and most of them you can watch for free (and pause if you need a little break!). One Youtube trainer that we love is Sami Clarke. Sami is an LA-based health and wellness coach, dedicated to guiding and educating people. Sami shares short, engaging home workouts and individual exercises, so that you can mix and match and do whatever feels right for you.
Pause and Reset
Your body is already working hard, sometimes you just need to take a day off. When we binge-watch our favourite shows, our brains are continually producing dopamine, allowing our bodies to experience a similar kind of high to when we exercise. One of our favourites at the moment is Sex Education, which follows an inexperienced, socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother. Surrounded by manuals, videos and tediously open conversations about sex, Otis can’t escape the subject. When his home life is revealed at school, Otis becomes the unanticipated expert, but realises that this could work to his advantage… Sex Education highlights the awkward navigation of teenage sexuality and the importance of open conversation - and we guarantee you will get hooked on the storyline.
Another series that we have been loving is Fleabag. This gripping comedy-drama follows the hilarious main character played by the incredible Pheobe Waller-Bridge (also the writer and creator of the show), as she blunders through life. Fleabag is a raw and unmissable insight into the life of a sexually active young Londoner who is constantly running into difficult situations, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. So make yourself a pink raspberry ripple hot chocolate, settle in, and maybe think about exercising tomorrow instead?
Women are constantly being told to work towards a ‘better you’. Sometimes this involves stopping, resting and recovering. Your period can be that cue to hit pause and reset. End this stigma. Period.