Working Out According to Your Menstrual Cycle Could Be the Key to Real Results

Nicole Singh

For many women, our menstrual cycles means changes to our bodies for at least a few days out of each month. Whether it’s increased pain or cramps, or just general sluggishness, trying to achieve our fitness goals during our period—or even simply sticking to a steady routine—can be tricky. But as much as you might want to crawl into bed with a heat pack, as Dr. Irv Rubenstein tells Health, breaking a sweat during your cycle can even help reduce symptoms.

To figure out how best to approach exercise during our period, we spoke to fitness expert Belinda Norton about her advice from her latest book Because I Was A Bad Wife, "My greatest body and mind weaknesses occur just before my period starts. I suffer from fatigue and clumsiness up to two days before." Norton also says, "Our cycle can strongly affect our workouts, and ability to exercise. How much effort you can give, and what you can do, both whilst exercising and in recovery, changes drastically through the month."

See below for more of Norton’s tips.

LIMIT YOUR STRETCHING

"At certain times, almost exactly midway, and then just before your period, your ligaments can loosen. This puts your hip and pelvic areas under enormous pressure. Always complete your stretching, but beware at these particular times not to extend too far as your ligaments are at their most elastic, and it is easy to strain yourself."

LOWER YOUR INTENSITY

"Instead of high intensity or high impact work, try to complete longer walks, with some easy ab work, or try doing your strength building exercises with lighter weights. Try to avoid doing yoga inversions of any kind while you are bleeding." Norton also suggests reducing "high-impact activities like running and never use heavy weights upon your hips or back."

SHIFT YOUR THINKING

"Feel the renewal of your body, embrace the change, and love the new beginning of your cycle. If we think of our period as this powerful shedding and renewal, our mind can become more positive about its physical effects. I also like to think of any feelings I have bottled up during the month getting released at this time."

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