Bloating, cramps, mood swings, lack of energy, cravings – we all know what that means: it’s that time of the month. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, and if your body is telling you to slow down, taking a day off probably won’t hurt. But before you throw in the towel and spend most of the week curled up on the couch, consider why working out during your period may be a good idea.
If you’re feeling sluggish, stressed out or cranky, a long jog or bike ride can help perk you up and make you feel better. That’s because exercise triggers the release of endorphins, a.k.a. happy hormones, or chemicals that naturally elevate mood and can help you relax.
If you’re uncomfortable or achy, a good workout may help ease some of your discomfort. Besides the pain-relieving effects of endorphins, you’re also getting the benefits of improved blood flow and circulation, which can help with headaches and other aches and pains. Certain exercises can also help loosen the muscles in your lower abdomen, back and thighs—especially helpful when you’re suffering from cramps.
Can’t stop craving junk food? Hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes and watch how quickly you change your mind about tearing open that bag of chips. That sweat you work up will also help rid your body of excess water, reducing that puffy, bloated feeling.
And if all that isn’t enough, there’s always the feel-good benefit of taking a time out from your busy schedule to focus on you. Drop the kids at the gym daycare, turn off your phone and let exercise take your mind off any stress or worries.
To get the most of your workouts and feel your best during that time of the month, try these tips:
Don’t overdo it. Stick with low-impact exercise for the days you’re on your cycle, and then return back to your regular workouts when you’re off. A good cardio workout might be to take a brisk walk or jog (not run) for 30 minutes, maintaining the same pace the whole time.
Dress in comfortable clothing. Wear dark pants and a loose-fitting top. Tight shirts can add pressure to an already tight-feeling stomach, not to mention making bloating and water weight gain more visible.
Start and finish with stretching. As with any other workout, warm up and stretch before you begin and after your finish exercising. These stretches are helpful if you’re cramping:
- Cat pose: crouch on all fours, arch your back and tuck your head down to your chest.
- Knee-to-chest pose: Lie on your back and bring you knees to your chest, hugging your calves with your arms.
Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluid during your workout. Staying hydrated can help with headaches and tiredness, both of which are side effects of having your period. For extra electrolyte support, try drinking coconut water or adding electrolyte tabs to your water bottle.
Stay away from salt and caffeine. What you eat during this time can also impact how you feel. Avoid salt and caffeine, which can aggravate menstrual symptoms like bloating and irritability. Try swapping out table salt for an herbal seasoning, and replace regular coffee and tea with decaffeinated versions. Traditional Medicinals makes a PMS Cinnamon Tea that’s soothing and helps support a good mood.
Tackle cramps naturally. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter pain relievers, try heat to ease the pain of cramps. The WellPatch Warming Pain Relief Patch can be applied directly to painful areas and worn under your clothing, so you don’t have to sit around with a plugged-in heating pad on your lap.
Supplement support. A daily multivitamin is always a good idea, but for extra support with your menstrual cycle, try a targeted formula like Enzymatic Therapy’s Aunt Flo PMS & Menstrual Support. It contains a Happy Balance blend of herbs such as black cohosh and chaste tree berry extract to help with PMS discomforts and a Vibrant Energy Iron Formula with iron, vtiamin B12, folic acid and other essential nutrients for energy support.*