For most women, especially in India, a visit from Aunt Flo means she must rest as much as possible, with as little movement as possible. So, they mostly put their exercise regime on a pause mode during this time. It might sound like a strange proposition, but exercising during periods can be good for you. It can lessen the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. Because of the release of endorphins during exercising, you can experience lesser mood fluctuations and lessened cramps. Basically, all the uncomfortable experiences during periods, like nausea, fatigue, irritability, depression, bloating, cramps, pain, etc. can be alleviated if you’re exercising during periods.
Keys to exercise during periods:
For many women, it is possible to continue with their regular exercise routine including high intensity. So, if your body permits you can continue with regular training. However, if while exercising, you feel pain or tiredness, stop what you’re doing, and rest. Don’t force yourself to go against what your body is telling you, just to show yourself that you’re tough. If you’re suffering from cramps and tiredness, your body is saying something, and listening to it is the key here.
You can go ahead with almost all exercises during this period including strength training; there’s no particular rule against it. However, it’s best to avoid high-intensity cardiovascular and endurance training for prolonged hours. You should also avoid skill and precision training. This is because, during periods, even moderately difficult training can aggravate the feeling of tiredness and cause heavy bleeding and pain.
As for practising yoga, eliminate inversion poses from your routine. This is because such poses in which your body is in an upside-down position can lead to an increase in bleeding. Yoga practitioners also believe that inversion poses hinder the natural direction of energy flow during this time.
Best Exercises during Periods:
It might not be possible for most of you to continue with the regular, high-intensity exercise routine, during periods. Your mind and body can both disagree with the attempt. So, what kind of exercises can you try during periods then?
1. Walking: It’s easy, quick, relaxing, and hassle-free. Ditch the treadmill and enjoy the fresh air. It will lift your mood, and you’ll need no special equipment or clothes for it.
2. Light Cardio: The key here is to keep things light. Cardio can help improve circulation and kick the dopamine flow. Just make sure it’s for a shorter period of time.
3. Low-Volume Strength Training: There’s no need to stop weight training completely during your periods. Just decrease the weight and see how your body responds.
4. Swimming: The buoyancy of water and the ripples gently lapping up on your body help soothe the cramps and feel better. It’s a cardio exercise that helps you relax.
5. Kegel: Kegel exercise, also known as pubococcygeus muscle pump, or PC pump, not only strengthens the pelvic floor but also improves menstrual health and relieves back pain.
6. Yoga: Yoga has been proven to be extremely effective during periods. The right kind of yoga postures can ease the body and mind, and alleviate pain. Remember not to perform any inversion pose during yoga.
The best yoga poses that help relieve cramps are: bound angle, reclined bound angle, wide angle seated forward bend, reclining twist, child’s pose, inverted leg pose, head to knee forward bend, cat and cow posture, standing forward bend, knee to chest pose, supine twist, and supported bridge pose.
So, don’t give in to the myth that you need to become a couch potato during your periods. While you don’t need to force yourself to continue with your regular exercise regime if your body does not permit, you can adopt a healthy, light routine. It is important to be mindful and listen to what your body wants and go on accordingly…. just be careful not to overstress yourself.