Working out during certain parts of your menstrual cycle may not sound particularly appealing, but different phases of your cycle can positively influence your energy and performance levels throughout the month.
In this article, we’ll look at how the menstrual cycle affects exercise routines, and what the benefits are of different types of workouts during specific phases of the cycle.
How does the Menstrual Cycle affect Exercise?
The chances are that exercising is not the first thing on your mind if you’re experiencing stomach cramps, headaches or other symptoms commonly associated with your period. However, different stages of the menstrual cycle can be suited to different types of exercise.
The effects of working out during different phases of the menstrual cycle have been of a higher level of interest in recent years, amongst both elite athletes and everyday gym-goers. Of course, every woman is different and won’t always have the same experience, so there isn’t necessarily one blanket approach in terms of exercise. Diet can also have an impact on a woman’s experience of the menstrual cycle, and a lack of vital nutrients can cause greater PMS symptoms. It’s important for women to ensure they are getting the necessary amount of vitamins B and D to help regulate hormones and energy levels. Foods such as fish, eggs and soya beans are ideal ways of getting these necessary nutrients or using food supplements such as Cleanmarine for Women. A combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is the best way of combatting PMS symptoms.
When it comes to regular exercise, studies have shown that different stages of the menstrual cycle can influence performance differently, and there is a common trend amongst most women for when it is most beneficial to work out and when it is most beneficial to rest.
Benefits of Exercising on your Period
Timing your workout routines to co-align with different stages of your menstrual cycle can help you get the most out of your exercise and achieve the optimal level of performance. There are several common benefits associated with exercising on your period, including raising your mood, combatting fatigue, pain relief, and muscle gains.
Depending on the specific phase of your menstrual cycle, you’ll likely find that you’re more suited to performing certain types of exercise. The different advantages are mainly affected by changing hormone levels, so it’s best to focus on specific types of exercises during different phases of your cycle.
The Three Main Phrases
The menstrual cycle is made up of different phases, Follicular, Ovulation and Luteal. During these different phases, the body experiences changing hormone levels which mean certain types of exercises are more suited to particular stages.
Follicular Phase (days 1-13)
At the start of your menstrual cycle, your oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, and you may experience symptoms of PMS. During the first five days, it’s best to focus on light exercises such as walking or jogging, which can also help to relieve symptoms. Throughout the follicular phase, oestrogen starts to rise while progesterone falls. Studies have shown that whilst your oestrogen levels are high, it can be advantageous to focus on strength training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Ovulation (day 14)
Ovulation usually occurs around day 14 of the menstrual cycle. As ovulation approaches, oestrogen levels tend to surge, which tends to mean you’ll have a greater capacity for hypertrophy muscle exercises. However, as ovulation occurs, progesterone levels also rise which increases your body temperature and can put you at a higher risk of injury. During ovulation, you may be able to gain muscle strength better when compared to other stages of the menstrual cycle, but you should ensure your form and technique is accurate as you’ll be at an increased risk of injury. For cardio, it’s best to stick to Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) exercises during this phase.
Luteal Phase (days 15-28)
As you move into the luteal phase, the days in-between ovulation and your period, progesterone levels continue to rise whereas your oestrogen levels fall. During the luteal phase is when you are most likely to see a dip in endurance, so you may not be able to work out to the optimal level. The recommended exercise for the luteal phase is usually LISS, and it’s also recommended to take rest days during this phase, so your body can recover for when it’s more advantageous to perform HIIT.
It’s important to remember that every woman is different and won’t have the exact same menstrual cycle experience. So, although it may be more beneficial for most women to work out intensely during certain stages, it won’t be the same for everyone.