Exercising can be the last thing on your mind when you are on your period – especially if you are suffering from mood swings, tiredness or stomach cramps. But before you run a bath or reach for your bar of chocolate consider pulling on your trainers.
Exercise is actually one of the best ways of relieving some of the issues that can accompany periods. According to a study from St. Mary’s University, 78 per cent of women surveyed found exercising reduced the symptoms relating to their menstrual cycle.
Not only is there a physical benefit of working out but exercise improves blood circulation in the pelvic area which can ease periods pains. It also releases endorphins, which will boost your overall mood as well as improving your sleep.
Kath Clements is a Director of Mooncup®, the original, leading, ethical silicone menstrual cup, made in Britain. She shares her top five tips for exercising while on your period: “We’re constantly being told to ‘work towards a better you’. Sometimes that can mean to stop, rest and recover, with your period as a cue to hit pause.
But other times, it’s time to shake things up and release. It’s down to you to know the activity level that’s right for you one cycle at a time, but it’s good to understand some of the benefits of exercising on your period.
Progesterone and oestrogen dip during menstruation. This can which can make you feel tired and less energetic, but choosing the right type of exercise could make you feel better.”
The top five tips for maintaining your exercise regime during your period:
- Choose a sport you love
There is no point trying to force yourself to a circuit class or to do 1000 push-ups if you absolutely hate it even when you are feeling 100 per cent. Choosing something you enjoy will increase the chances of you doing it again. Low-intensity exercise, like swimming, is great and has actually been proven to help relieve menstrual cramps. This is because it encourages your body to release endorphins, which can act like natural painkillers. The buoyancy of the water can also soothe sore back and support your joints. Yoga is also a popular option: not only it is low impact and the deep breathing relaxes you, but it also can reduce cramping, breast tenderness, muscular fatigue and soreness.
- Just run with it
There is a myth that you can’t run when you’re on your but actually your body is better prepared to run more efficiently when you’re on. Research shows that when your aerobic exercise goes up, the PMS symptoms can go down. Gynecologist Dr Julie Levitt explains to Runner’s World***; “Your body knows it’s not getting pregnant, so its systems aren’t focused on making your uterus into an incubator. Your body can do things other than make babies—including run. Your body’s better able to convert carbs into energy, keep you from overheating, and help you recover.” You might even achieve a new Personal Best. After all Paula Radcliffe famously broke the world record in Chicago in 2002 after suffering period cramps throughout the last third of the race.
- Beat the bloat
Periods can make you feel bloated. Women can gain between five and ten extra pounds of water before and during their period. This bloat isn’t helped by the cravings for chocolate and unhealthy foods. Too much sugary food can also really hit your mood and energy. Exercising can help to reduce the bloated feeling as when you sweat, water leaves the body, relieving the bloat. Plus – how often have you felt worse after a workout? But please note that drinking less water does not help with water retention – in fact you need to drink more to flush everything out especially if exercising. Always aim for two litres a day. Cutting down on salt and caffeine can help with the bloating too.
- Get comfortable
After cramps and low energy levels, the most common reason for not exercising on your period is fear of leaking or discomfort and “feeling your tampon or pad”. Pads and even the tampon string can cause chafing and rubbing especially if you’re running or cycling long distances. One benefit of using the Mooncup is that it is worn completely internally, which means you don’t have to worry about a tampon string making an unwelcome appearance. The Mooncup also holds three times as much as a regular tampon making it easier to focus on your exercise.
It’s a good idea to empty your Mooncup before a workout and get used to using the Mooncup before you hit the pool on a competitive swim!
- Prep for the pain
While exercise is a great natural relief for menstrual pain, sometimes taking a paracetamol or similar pain relief when on your period can help improve your workout. Take one 30 minutes before your regime and you will notice the improvement. Studies have shown that pain relief helps to regulate your temperature and even lengthen the amount of time you can work out.
Mooncup is a British manufacturing success story with more than 2 million users in 50 countries worldwide.
Designed for high performance comfort, durability and reliability, it maintains rigorous quality standards over competitors. The Mooncup menstrual cup is made from platinum-cured medical grade silicone. The company is owned by its employees and encourages sustainable consumerism.
Currently, the biggest markets for Mooncup Ltd are the UK, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Further growth is predicted in Europe as the British brand expands, with their website already translated into 15 languages with usage instructions available in 18 different languages.