No matter how athletic, sedentary or somewhere in between a woman may be, nearly every of-age female in the world shares one thing in common: she gets her period on a regular basis. This is a normal part of life, and life does not stop as a result.
For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, workouts do not need to stop either. Working out while menstruating is possible, although symptoms of fatigue and cramping may cause discomfort. However, there are certain workouts that can align with a woman’s menstrual cycle to deliver the best relief and the optimal amount of physical activity during these times.
Throughout a woman’s cycle, hormone levels fluctuate greatly. Progesterone, estrogen and testosterone all reside at different levels throughout the month as the body prepares to shed tissue that it does not need. During a woman’s period, levels of estrogen rise and testosterone levels remain fairly low.
Doctors and medical professionals urge young women to continue working out as they normally would, but if painful cramps and heavy bleeding are an issue, it is perfectly acceptable to take it easy. Many recommend performing lighter activities, such as walking, swimming or yoga.
Related: Early Periods May Lead to Premature Menopause
During a woman’s period, it may be difficult to perform high-intensity exercises, but research shows that later on in a woman’s cycle, the lungs are more effective at providing endurance for longer durations of exercise.
It is after a woman’s period ends that exercise can really be done at great benefit to the woman. In the week following their menstrual cycles, women can gain strength more easily and display more power during workouts. Hormonal variations at this time make it the ideal time to push harder and attempt stronger lifts or more intense weight training.
In subsequent weeks leading into the next menstrual cycle, workouts may need to lessen in intensity as estrogen levels drop, causing fatigue. It is recommended to perform more endurance exercises during this time, as stamina may increase as explosive power decreases. Some even claim that during this time, female athletes are more at risk for injury. However, the research is still conflicting on this subject.
The general rule of thumb for exercising during periods is to go about activities as normal. However, if fatigue and cramping begin to set in, less intense methods of working out are recommended. Then, when menstruation ends, it’s time to get back in the gym and set a new personal record.
Related: 7 Refueling Snacks to Eat Post-Workout
Marissa is a health and fitness writer from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to researching the latest trending topics, she enjoys instructing kickboxing classes and posting incessantly to her Instagram account.