Resolutions and [Period] Revolutions: Overcoming Worries About Exercise During Your Cycle
Happy New Year! In the spirit of new beginnings and the season of resolutions, many of us consider ways to take better care of ourselves and practice healthy behaviors like eating well and exercising. Some days it can be a real struggle to get to the gym, and periods pose unique challenges—the cramps, the fatigue, the mess—that can potentially break our stride. Be a Rose is on a mission to encourage healthy choices for women, so let's talk about healthy periods and your exercise routine to foster a community of support for and among women.
During your period, the thought of sweatpants, ice cream, and a Netflix binge may sound more appealing than an hour on the elliptical. However, did you know that exercising during your period is one of the best ways to relieve all those pesky symptoms dragging you to the sofa? In addition to the release of feel-good endorphins that curb irritability, exercise increases the blood flow to ease cramps, headaches, back pain, and fatigue. Plus, increased heart rate and sweat help keep the digestive system on track, warding off constipation and bloating.
These key benefits should boost your confidence and motivation!
Now, what are the best exercises during your period? There are several perspectives on this topic. Some studies have indicated a correlation between menstruation and exercise-related injuries such as ligament tears in the knee (ACL tears), which is, in part, attributed to lowered motor control. Also, some assert that due to ligament strain during menstruation, vigorous exercise should be avoided. Consequently, these perspectives urge a more gentle exercise routine during your period, such as yoga or walking.
In contrast, others argue that low levels of estrogen and progesterone at the start of menstruation lead to more powerful workouts. Thus, women are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to add a few more reps to their weightlifting routines or add a greater incline on the treadmill. Fitness blogger Jennifer Blake shares that during her period, she feels empowered to “lift hard and often” and sees “the most consistent progress” in her training. Blake has found that tracking her cycle to manage her workouts has been an “invaluable” tool in getting to know her body well and planning her workouts to make the most out of hormonal fluctuations.
In addition to free apps available for tracking your period, there are innovative new products for managing your menstrual hygiene during exercise. If the thought of rogue tampon strings slipping out of your swimsuit or pads bunching and shifting in your shorts have kept you from the gym, we hope you’ll be encouraged to hear that feminine hygiene products have undergone drastic improvements to meet the needs of today’s women. Kotex now offers the “U by Kotex Fitness” line, which promises greater protection and comfort while the body moves. THINX has introduced a “sport” line of period panties designed for comfortable, flexible, leak-free protection. Menstrual cups, such as DivaCup, offer up to 12 hours of hassle-free protection, designed to “handle the various angles of your body movement.”
So, embrace your body and explore your options! And whether you choose to try a more intense workout or instead opt for a gentle practice during your period, the most important behavior is to listen to what your body tells you and respond to its needs. You know your body better than anyone else, and you are in charge of your own health. We hope that you stay well, keep encouraged, and continue to Be a Rose through 2018!
By: Aanee Nichols