I was always sceptical about working out during my periods. I guess my prejudice has to be blamed for it. However, the point is that I was wrong! Of course, I don’t exercise when it’s too uncomfortable to exercise, but it has nothing to do with cramps. If anything, when I started exercising during my menstrual cycle, I learned a lot about my body and how some sort of physical exercise actually helped me get relief from stomach cramps. So, I asked a doctor to help us understand more about exercising during periods.
Well, this is not the first time you thought about taking your menstrual cycle into consideration when it comes to hitting the gym, isn’t it? While there are too many women asking this question, there’s too little research to give you a legit answer. HealthShots had to reach out to a professional to help you figure it out. We spoke to Dr Lavanya Kiran, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Reproductive Medicine, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru.
Dr Kiran says there is no scientific evidence that suggests that you shouldn’t exercise during periods. “In fact, there’s evidence that exercise can be helpful during this time and periods are more regular in girls who exercise regularly.”
However, she adds that you need to understand your menstrual cycles to know why and what kind of exercise you should do during periods.
Every menstruator has a menstrual cycle between 22-35 days every month. Hormonal changes happen throughout your menstrual cycle, which causes a lot of changes in your emotions and energy levels. Each menstrual cycle has different phases, which include menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. Here’s an explanation by Dr Kiran of each of these phases.
In this phase, the levels of the hormones called progesterone and oestrogen, lead to bleeding. In other words, the days of the periods where the lining is shed, which normally last 3-5 days. You can do low-intensity, stretches or breathing exercises during this phase.
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As the bleeding stops, the hormone levels will gradually increase, and the follicular phase will start, where the ovaries start producing follicles, and you start feeling better. That is when you can resume your intense exercise. During this phase, your estrogen levels also increase, making you feel good.
As the follicles mature and the egg release happens, usually mid-way between the periods, you can continue to do the exercises. In case you have gone through a fertility treatment, it may be best to keep the exercise less intense.
During this phase, there is an increase in progesterone and a small amount of estrogen. You can continue to do your routine exercises. If fertilization happens, progesterone increases again. You will not get your period. Here’s when you need to consult the doctor for further advice. If fertilization/implantation doesn’t happen, periods will resume.
In short, there is no excuse good enough to get out of exercising regularly. As per the expert, exercise is helpful at any time. People who exercise regularly feel physically better and have lesser mood swings. It may even soothe premenstrual symptoms such as period cramps and back pain. Exercise if you want and if you are comfortable doing so during periods!