The idea of working out when you have your period may seem counterintuitive but it’s not! Here are 7 exercises for PMS relief.
You may feel that a workout will simply add to your stomach cramps and body pains. But studies show that exercising during a period can help to reduce PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) symptoms such as cramps, muscle aches and bloating.
Exercise also improves blood circulation which in turn will help to prevent headaches and fatigue.
Working out can also help to reduce the psychological symptoms of PMS such as mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.
Researchers found that exercise during a menstrual cycle is beneficial for fitness enthusiasts and non-athletes alike.
7 Exercises For PMS Relief
Working out during your period can help to reduce PMS symptoms but some exercises offer greater benefits than others. If this is your first time exercising while on your period, you can reduce your exercise intensity and instead focus on your form.
Here are 7 exercises that can help reduce PMS:
Walking is one of the simplest and easiest exercises that will help you stay fit and improve your overall health.
Whether you are a gym enthusiast or a fitness newbie, go for a 30-minute walk while you have your periods as this will help to reduce PMS symptoms such as cramps and bloating.
You can adjust your walking speed according to your level of discomfort at that point.
Some of the other health benefits of walking include improved heart and lung function, stronger bones, and reduced body fat.
If you are unable to go for a daily walk, you can incorporate walking in your daily lifestyle by making minor adjustments:
- Walk (instead of drive) to local stores;
- If you use public transport, get off one stop earlier so that you have a long walk home.
Riding your bike on a regular basis improves joint mobility and muscle strength which will reduce the muscle and joint pain associated with PMS.
Researchers found that cycling is one of the ideal methods to reduce or even eliminate PMS and that women who exercise more than twice a week are less likely to suffer from severe PMS as compared to those who exercise less than twice a week.
Cycling can also help to reduce your risk of dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) as an increase in physical activity is directly linked to a decrease in pelvic pain.
3. Elliptical Workout
An elliptical workout is a non-impact cardio exercise that can help strengthen the entire body.
This exercise is ideal for beginners and experts alike as the intensity of the workout can vary from light to high intensity – by changing the speed and resistance settings on the elliptical trainer.
A recent study found that just 2 months of cardio exercise such as elliptical workouts are effective in reducing PMS symptoms.
If you have not worked out for a while, perform this exercise just thrice a week with a day of rest in between to ensure that you don’t overexert.
There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about swimming when you have your period but it is one of the best exercises for PMS.
The first thing you need to know is that when you’re in a swimming pool, the pressure of the water temporarily stops your period flow and it will resume as soon as you step out of the pool.
Although you cannot use a pad when swimming, you can use a tampon or a menstrual cup.
Swimming can help to reduce PMS as the buoyancy of the water reduces the stress on your joints so that you can exercise comfortably, free from muscle and joint pain associated with PMS.
A study in 2018 on the effects of swimming on PMS found that swimming reduces the physical and psychological effects of PMS.
Pilates focuses on the pelvic floor muscles and working this group of muscles promotes the relaxation of tightened pelvic floor muscles.
It also improves blood flow and promotes the release of endorphins which reduces fatigue and stress.
A recent study on the effects of Pilates and aerobic exercise on PMS symptoms in non-athlete girls found that Pilates was more effective than cardio in reducing the psychological effects of PMS.
Pilates exercises target specific muscle groups which means that you can create a workout with roll-downs to stretch your spine and reduce PMS back pain.
Yoga asanas (poses) are among the best exercises for PMS as they improve reproductive organ function and encourage deep relaxation which reduces PMS symptoms.
It also calms the central nervous system and triggers the release of endorphins which improves mood and decreases stress.
Researchers found that yoga exercise intervention improved physical function and decreased bodily pain and abdominal cramps associated with PMS.
Another study found that yoga can also help to increase mental focus and attention in women with PMS.
7. Strength Training
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to skip your strength training workouts whenever you get your period.
Low-volume strength training and power-based activities can help to loosen tight hips and hamstrings which in turn reduces menstrual cramps.
Exercises such as the Scissors Abs and Torso Twists will target your core muscles and ease PMS stomach pain.
If you start to feel fatigued while exercising, take a break and reduce the length and intensity of your strength training workout.
3 Tips For Working Out When You Have Your Period
If you follow these tips, you might be able to work out while on your period:
1. Don’t Push Yourself
It’s good to stay active when you have your period, but this is not the ideal time to test your limits.
Pace yourself and stick to exercises you are used to as this will help to prevent overexertion and reduce the risk of injury.
Do not be tempted to skip your warm-up stretches even if you have muscle aches.
Gentle stretching exercises will help to reduce muscle ache, improve mobility and posture and increase blood flow to your muscles.
3. Use Period Activewear
One of the most common reasons women avoid the gym when they have their period is the fear of staining. Several companies now offer period activewear options that reduce the risk of staining while working out.
In addition to this, you can wear an additional layer of clothing – for instance, wear dark-colored shorts over your leggings.
Working out during your period will ease your PMS symptoms but it is equally important to listen to your body – if you feel that your cramps are too severe for you to exercise, wait until they subside before you head to the gym.
If you have recently suffered from a respiratory illness such as pneumonia, speak to your doctor before you start exercising to avoid further complications.