Experts reveal the best workouts to do on your period

What exercises should you do during your period? (Getty Images)
What exercises should you do during your period? (Getty Images)

We may have come a long way from ducking out of PE due to our time of the month, but it seems periods are still impacting our fitness regimes.

According to a recent study a quarter of all women claim that their menstrual cycle is a hurdle to undertaking more physical activity.

Further research, by ActionAid and YouGov, estimates that 6 million British women avoid exercise every year as a result of their period, highlighting the fact that our menstrual cycle is still a bleeding (pun totally intended) pain when it comes to maintaining an exercise regime.

From cramping, to lack of energy, there's no getting round the fact that periods can disrupt even the most determined fitness advocates. It's little wonder, therefore, that one in four female gym members have left the gym or a class early due to menstruation, or have cancelled a gym class or gym session altogether as they felt uncomfortable, unmotivated, and were worried about leakage.

But exercising doesn't have to be a no go during the time of the month, in fact there are some ways to adapt your fitness routine which could help ease some of the symptoms of PMS.

Live Football Tickets spoke to the period experts to provide some tips for exercising effectively during your menstrual cycle.

Adapting your exercise routine to fit your hormone cycle

It isn’t necessarily just your period that you can be in tune with when it comes to your fitness regime. In fact, there are specific stages to the hormone cycle which can make certain exercises better suited to certain times throughout the month.

For example, you may feel more energised in the days before and post-ovulation day, meaning that you might be able to endure higher levels of exertion compared to other times of the month.

"During the first half of your cycle – known as the follicular phase, you may feel quite energetic," explains NHS GP Dr Hana Patel.

"This is because, after your period finishes, your body produces more oestrogen. Oestrogen is a female sex hormone which can boost your energy levels - and could increase your stamina for exercise. It is at its highest near ovulation."

After ovulation, Dr Patel says we enter the second half of our menstrual cycle – which is called the luteal phase.

"Towards the end of this time, you might find yourself feeling sleepier," she adds. "This is because your body produces more progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone which can also make you feel warmer than you would be during the first stage of your cycle."

Woman working out. (Getty Images)
There are some benefits to working out on our period. (Getty Images)

There’s absolutely no need to stop exercising completely when you’re on your period, interestingly, evidence has shown that exercise can help both in the days before and during your period.

"Before your period you might experience a range of symptoms classed as premenstrual syndrome (PMS)," Dr Patel explains.

"These can affect everyone differently but can include physical things like bloating and breast tenderness. You might also notice psychological symptoms such as feeling irritable or low in mood. Exercise can help to support you during this time," she continues.

"Moderate exercise such as walking, yoga, or dancing can help to release feel good hormones called endorphins. These chemicals can help to improve your mood and reduce the pain of cramps and headaches."

Listening to your bodies needs during different phases of the menstrual cycle has plus points for overall health and fitness.

"Learning how we can work with our menstrual cycle rather than against it is a life skill that all women should look to learn," explains Jodi Montlake, hormone specialist and partner at the London Hormone Clinic.

She recommends trying to recognise that your body is working harder during menstruation and adjusting the intensity or duration of the exercise you're doing.

"If exercise feels too demanding and leaves you feeling unwell, it's important to listen to your body and take the time to rest and recuperate," Montlake continues. "You will still most likely benefit from small movements by getting up regularly and walking around as this will help your blood flow.

"By tuning into your body's needs and respecting its natural cycles, you can cultivate a balanced and sustainable approach to exercise that supports overall health and wellbeing."

Woman who has just finished working out. (Getty Images)
Experts recommend cardio and low intensity exercise during your period. (Getty Images)

Best forms of exercise to do while on your period

Low intensity workouts

Whilst on your period, it can be a good idea to opt for workouts of a lower intensity, such as yoga, tai chi, or even simple stretches.

"Exercises such as this can help to relieve pain and cramps, as well as help to reduce stress, endorse dopamine, and boost your energy levels," Montlake explains.

"Incorporating low-impact activities like pilates, yoga, or walking can alleviate period pain and promote overall wellbeing. Starting these routines before or after menstruation helps the body acclimate, making exercise more enjoyable and effective when menstruation does occur."

Cardio workouts

Cardio exercises can be beneficial for decreasing period symptoms. "Exercises such as walking, dancing, and riding a bike can not only help to reduce cramps or bloating, but also ease the psychological symptoms of PMS or a period, such as emotions of depression or anxiety," Montlake explains.

"If you usually enjoy cycling for your cardio but find it too much pressure around your pelvis during your period, I suggest (depending on what you have access to) using upright methods for cardio like a cross trainer. This will still get your heart rate up and deliver the same benefits as cycling."

Resistance training

Whether you enjoy light or heavy weight training, doing this during your period can contribute to easing anxiety, and help improve your muscle mass and tone.

"Weight training during the follicular phase (the first day of your period, through to ovulation) could improve your muscle mass and tone, as oestrogen levels are at their highest," Montlake explains.

"This means that your body is more capable of accessing stored carbohydrates, making this an ideal time for weight training due to it being easier to build and maintain muscle during this phase."

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