Cramps? Bloated? Want to curl up with a tub of ice cream and hide in a doona fort? Yeh we hear you... Periods can suck!
When I was in high school we had to do a check box of things that women should or shouldn't do when they were on their rag. It had things like "Make big decisions" "swim" "Exercise"
The idea of the check-box was to prove that despite bleeding from their nether regions, women were all-mighty-powerhouses of capability and were perfectly capable of menstruating and continuing on a blissful existence.
I ticked no to ALL of the boxes.
When I'm premenstrual, I'm apt to saying rash things, making regrettable decisions, and injuring myself due to some bizarre hormone induced hyper-flexibility. Unlike the panty-liner ads, I don't go horseback riding in white jeans in a g-string.... You're more likely to find me in my oldest tracksuit pants, nursing a cup of tea and snuggled to a hot water bottle.
My sex-ed teacher told me that exercise could ease the PMS symptoms a bit. So I tried. A gentle cycle.
As a newly menstruating teen, with a pre-childbirth uterus, going for a 10k bike ride was enough to stimulate my body into the most painful, vomit-inducing cramps I've ever had. I had cold sweats as I pedalled back to my house, crawled into the shower, and then tried to sleep the day off curled around a wheaty-heaty. The post exercise endorphin rush never hit. Nor did the ease up of the period symptoms.
It is possible my idea of a gentle ride, was NOT the gentle exercise my teacher had in mind.
These days it's totally different. I love a gentle jog, using my favorite menstural cup, followed by tea, stretching and taking it easy.
Your period can most definitely affect your workout, and your workout can definitely affect how you feel throughout your period.
Exercising on your period can ease up the cramps and cranky.
Combat the PMS stabbiness with nice fluffy little post-workout-endorphins. They're the cute little happy hormones that are all rainbows and unicorn farts after you sweat.
In all seriousness, a gentle workout can make you feel great. Or if your body is up for it, a less gentle workout, where you punch the PMS away. Whatever rings your bell.
Movin' the bod-eh can:
- Ease the cramps
- Reduce the bloating
- and help with the period-related-crankiness
Personally I find it helps me find a much calmer space in my mind.
Exercising on your period can make you hyper-flexible and more injury prone
Relaxin - the hormone of s-t-r-e-t-c-h. It has it's place in childbirth, and it's certainly in your body for a reason but many women report being more injury prone during their period and around ovulation on account of this lovely chemical cocktail.
Take it easy, and be aware of your body.
Exercising too much can stop your periods altogether
Some athletes can stimulate their body into what's called Athletic Amenorrhoea. Basically lowering your body fat to a point where your pituitary gland stops sending signals to your reproductive system to menstruate.
In the long term it can be associated with high cholesterol, infertility, and even osteoporosis. If your cycles have become abnormal since exercising, it's time to check in with your health care provider.
You don't have to sweat like a piggy to get the benefits.
A nice, calm walk is enough to get the happy hormones pumping. And to be honest if that's about as far as you feel like pushing your hot bod, then so be it. Go gently, and take the time to nurture yourself.
Do you notice your periods affecting how you work-out? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Photo credit: yellow2j