Many myths about menstruation and exercise remain from the past – when menstruation was taboo and something uncomfortable to talk about. Learn more about exercise while on periods.
To make life (and exercise, because this is about exercising with menstruation) a little easier, it is good to learn to understand your body, how it changes through the menstrual cycle and how it affects both how we feel and what effect the training has.
Did you know?
- 63% of top female athletes said that menstrual pain decreased during exercise
- 75% of top female athletes feel worse just before menstruation
- 2–4.5 kg average weight gain due to water in the body before menstruation
Exercise and the menstrual cycle
Menstruation and exercise are affected by the menstrual cycle controlled by our hormones and divided into four equal phases that all affect how you feel. Most are the hormones estrogen and progesterone that rise and fall during the cycle, but they, in turn, affect other hormones, and thus the whole body and how you feel.
Exercise during menstruation
Day 1 to 5 of the menstrual cycle, you have your period, and you probably feel tired and tired, and you do not want to do much. This is because both estrogen and progesterone levels are low. Even if you do not wish to combine menstruation and exercise, you will feel better if you do – thanks to the endorphins, a pleasure hormone that rises when you move. Try yoga, swimming (what – swim with your period? Yes then, use a tampon or menstrual cup, it’s okay!) Or go for a walk. If you have menstrual pain, stretch to loosen up the muscle cramps. Research has shown that strength training gives extra good results in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. This is due to the low progesterone level. Progesterone breaks down proteins that build muscle. Therefore, low progesterone equals more protein to build strength from!
Exercise after menstruation
Phase two – approximately between days 5 and 14 – is a phase with more energy. You may feel strong and full of energy as your estrogen levels begin to rise. It causes the blood flow in the brain to increase and causes other hormones, including serotonin (your best friend and a pleasure hormone), to do the same. All this makes you feel strong and alert – so you can take in a little extra when you train and try more considerable challenges than usual. The hormones also boost the memory – now it is PERFECT to practice the difficult dance or aerobic combination since the brain is on your side. Remember that you can still get a little more out of strength training.
Exercise and ovulation
The third phase – the one that starts with ovulation and lasts between days 14 and 22 (if you have a menstrual cycle of 28 days) – is a phase where it is more common to feel a little more relaxed. Especially at the beginning of the stage, one can feel a little empty, so the body should perhaps move a little to get a serotonin injection. The body is full of both estrogen and progesterone, and it causes the metabolism to increase. The increase in hormones also means that you can become more sensitive. But back to the muscles – exercise is perfect even now: The body burns fat at a furious pace, and the hormones increase the effect of your sweaty hours at the gym.
Exercise when you have PMS
The last phase – days 22 to 28 – is the heaviest. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and most people feel tired. In short – not the time when you most want to drag yourself to training or off the couch. BUT the movement can make it easier to get through the misery. Exercise produces endorphins, making you feel better and making it easier to deal with PMS symptoms. However, the risk of injury is a little higher when you have your period since you can struggle with balance and coordination. Therefore, it can be wise to avoid training focusing on these things and instead emphasize exercises that strengthen the balance, knee control, and landing technique that suits the type of sport you like. Do not push yourself too much in this phase. If you feel like taking it easy and recharging your batteries, then this is more than satisfactory – you deserve it!