Woman doing gentle stretching exercises in her room while on her period.

While exercising during your period might be the very last thing you feel like doing, there are a stack of reasons why it’s a really good idea.

Exercise improves blood circulation in the pelvic area, meaning less menstrual pain. It also boosts your overall mood so you can better cope with whatever your cycle throws at you.

Going to the gym during a painful period might be a tall order, of course, but there are plenty of other alternatives. A long walk, a gentle swim or some yoga stretches can ease discomfort and help you feel a lot more positive. In a study of top female athletes, while nearly three out of four said they felt worse just before menstruation, 63 per cent said that their pain decreased during training [1]. A workout or physical activity will also make you feel better overall, as exercise stimulates endorphin production in your body. These feel-good hormones not only relieve the symptoms of PMS, they improve your sleep too.

Exercise can also help with that bloated feeling you get during your period. Did you know that it’s not unusual for women to take on five to 10 extra pounds of water during their cycle [2]? This bloat isn’t helped by over-indulging cravings for unhealthy foods that are common when you’re premenstrual. Apart from potentially leaving you feeling self-conscious and out of shape, too much sugary and fatty food will also leave you low in mood and energy. But when you sweat – like after a good workout – water leaves the body, relieving the bloat. Plus your mood’s boosted, you’ve got way more energy and you feel 100 per cent better about yourself.

Worried about leakage, slippage or chafing? Don’t be. When exercising during your period, wear a pad that is super-absorbent and moulds to your body shape. Just make sure you shower and change your protection – and underwear – afterwards, so menstrual odour isn’t an issue.

If you suffer from extremely heavy periods (menorrhagia), it’s probably best to skip the kickboxing class during your heaviest flow. Instead, try to stay physically active with a brisk walk or bike ride. And if you work out at home on your own, make sure to include some downward-facing moves that will help relieve menstrual cramps.

Exercising on your period – dispelling the myths

Illustration of a woman tying up her shoe laces - Libresse
Myth 1: It’s not safe to exercise during your period.

Truth: Providing you don’t overdo it, exercising during your period is not only safe, it’s encouraged by experts.

Illustration of a woman weighing herself on scales - Libresse
Myth 2: You gain weight just before your period.

Truth: It’s actually just water retention, which disappears by the time your period starts. [2]

Illustration of a mobile phone and a calorie counter - Libresse
Myth 3: You burn more calories if you exercise when menstruating.

Truth: Nope. But you do if you exercise in the luteal phase of your cycle, just before your period. [3]


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