Exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing during your period. Who could blame you when your body is already achy, and even your yoga pants feel uncomfortable? But hear us out for a second.
Maintaining some kind of exercise routine during your period can actually be very beneficial when it comes to managing cramps and other period symptoms. Don’t worry, nobody is expecting you to hit your personal best or break any records (although more power to you if you can). Simple, gentle movement is all it takes to feel the benefits. We’re all about better periods here at JuJu, which is why we’ve put together some helpful tips for working out during your period!
The Benefits of Period Exercise
Regardless of where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, exercise is good for your body. The endorphins released by your body during exercise will help to lift your mood and even act as a natural painkiller to combat cramps. Gentle stretching with activities like yoga or pilates can also help to reduce period pain and soothe aches in the lower back, hips and legs.
What Type of Exercise is Best During Your Period?
Whatever exercise you enjoy and makes you feel good is the best type of activity to do during your period!
Light cardio or aerobic exercise is a popular choice, while others enjoy lower impact activities like swimming (yes, you can absolutely swim during your period), yoga or Pilates. Try combining a few of these to keep your workout routine varied - your body will thank you, and you’ll never get bored.
Yoga and Pilates are both very beneficial to practice during your period, as they often focus on breathing and relaxation as well as movement. Helping your body relax during your period will help to reduce period symptoms like breast tenderness, anxiety, depression and painful cramping. You can read our guide for the best yoga poses to relieve period cramps here.
Exercises to Avoid During Your Period
Generally, it’s a good idea not to push yourself to your limits during your period, especially if you experience heavy bleeding or intense period pain. If you're committed to cardio or strength training, try to avoid high-intensity workouts and take it down a notch for the first few days of your cycle.
Some also believe that it is also best to avoid inversions (i.e. getting upside down) during your period. Although there is currently no scientific evidence to back this, it is believed that inversions can disrupt the natural ‘downward’ menstrual flow and lead to energetic blocks in the body. If you do head to a yoga class during your period and are concerned about this, you can simply skip the postures where your feet are in there air, such as shoulder stands or headstands, and opt for a chilled-out savasana or child’s pose instead.
Managing Your Period During Exercise
It’s really down to personal preference, but internal menstrual products such as menstrual cups and tampons are usually preferred during exercise. This is mostly because pads have a tendency to move around, bunch up and become sweaty and uncomfortable. If you do wear a pad during exercise, it’s essential to change it immediately after finishing your workout to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.
Can You Use a Menstrual Cup During Exercise?
Yes, absolutely! We hear countless stories from people who find it much more comfortable, freeing and convenient to wear a menstrual cup while working out. Because menstrual cups can be worn for longer than pads and tampons and are undetectable outside the body, active people find that wearing a menstrual cup helps them focus on their performance, rather than being preoccupied with their period.
Because menstrual cups only need to be changed every 8 hours, endurance athletes and those on time trials don’t need to worry about frequent changes or carrying additional items with them. Hikers also love that they don’t have to tend to their period while in the great outdoors (although if you do, here is our handy guide for doing it right) and transport excess waste with them. Swimmers don’t need to worry about strings, while yogis and gymnasts can bend in all different directions without worrying about leaks.
As your body is moving in different ways during exercise, we recommend wearing a pantyliner or pair of period underwear as a backup when you first start using your JuJu cup while working out. This will give you peace of mind and protection from leaks while you are getting the hang of using your cup.
Staying active is such an essential part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. Exercising during your period is not only safe but can actually make your period less painful and help to balance your mood at the same time!
It is generally okay to continue your regular exercise routine while on your period, or you may wish to dial things down and take it easy while you are bleeding. It’s not about pushing yourself, but rather doing what you can and what feels good for your body. Most importantly, listen to your body, respect your limits and consult with a medical practitioner before introducing any new forms of exercise.