Can females do heavy workouts in periods? While years and years of medical advice on doing regular exercises are seated deep inside our brains, why keep away from exercising when you need it the most?
While both exercise and periods on a regular interval can keep a female body fit & healthy, subsequently devoid of health setbacks, why opt out of the former during the phase of the latter?
When you cannot deny your fateful hike, every month, why retire from the running shoes that have kept you active and energetic for the rest of the time?
Perhaps, a lot of people, including me, tend to skip the regular workout session during the time of menstruation for a variety of reasons – from cramps to tiredness, from mood swings to emotional imbalances, and so forth!
That is something normal, as too much of anything can bring into the stage a set of problems.
In this regard, Dr. Christopher Holligsworth said,
“Both Progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest during the entire length of the period phase of the menstrual cycle, which can make people feel tired and less energetic.”
No wonder, the period is much more complicated from a hormonal standpoint!
The physical benefits of exercise, and likewise its mental benefits do not really stop making its landmark just because you are on your periods. On the contrary, it can help ease out many of the problems which you suffer during this time of the month.
Now, you must be keen to know what those benefits are and how to actually acquire them when you are having your periods!
That is exactly why we are here to guide you through! This article based on the question – Can females do heavy workouts during periods – can offer you a detailed insight on to what level your workout can serve you with a sigh of relief during periods and where the line of workout should halt!
So, let us dive into it!
What are the benefits of workout while having periods?
Perhaps, avoiding exercise will not save your energy or make you feel active when you have periods. Instead, ceasing exercises shall cut you off from your daily healthy routine, and you shall encounter worse period symptoms.
Hence, it is advisable to keep yourself engaged with some light exercises during your periods and derive the benefits that it holds.
Are you keen to learn what the benefits are? Discover them below!
1. Boosts your mood
During your periods, the level of your stress hormone cortisol rises up because of excessive exertion and makes you go through an emotional imbalance. That is how you have a mood swing at this time, sometimes feeling agitated & cranky, and sometimes hyperactive. It is where exercises come into play, helping reduce the level of stress cortisol and thereupon enhancing your mood.
2. Combats with period cramps
One of the most common problems that every woman suffers from during periods is a severe cramp in the abdominal area. Exercise shall remove this pain by improving the blood circulation in your body, particularly to the pelvic floor muscles. It stimulates the process of shedding the endometrial lining and streamlines the flow of toxic blood through your vagina right after the workout.
3. Makes you more active and creates strength & power
Being a woman who bleeds every month, you must be knowing that it is not unlikely to feel low during this time, nor is it unlikely to feel like sticking to your bed the entire time. But, when you engage in some basic exercises during your periods, you shall certainly feel energetic for the whole day and stay fit & active. Similarly, you shall gain more strength & power to stand tall, mainly in the first two days of your periods. That is when you do not have to miss out on important meetings and deadlines or do your daily household work.
4. Helps reduce Premenstrual Syndromes (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndromes are bothersome indeed! They pop up every month before your periods and hamper your daily life schedule by creating concentration issues, sleep disturbances, weird food cravings, emotional disturbances, bloating, excessive water retention, and so forth. Exercises aim to keep you free from all of these and ensure that you have a normal life, just like the other days of the month.
5. Regularises your menstrual cycle
Above all, the most crucial attribute of exercise during periods is that it regularises the menstrual cycle and brings you back to a healthy reproductive system. If you are the one suffering from irregular periods and are not aware of the dates, exercising when you bleed can actually topple this problem and help get your period calendar on track.
What are the setbacks of a pretty heavy workout during periods?
Well, indulging in sweat sash during your periods can sometimes turn overwhelming, and you should listen to yourself before you embark on it. It is because over-exercising or an extensively heavy workout can fall heavy on your menstruation cycle. How exactly? Read below!
Also called breakthrough bleeding, Spotting is a kind of vaginal bleeding that happens outside the period routine. The blood is typically bright red in color and sometimes dark, and the blood flow is much lighter than the regular periods you have. Such a condition occurs when you engage in an extensively heavy workout! During this time, subtle changes take place in your hormone levels. These mixed hormonal signals lead to the random shedding of your uterus lining, and that’s how the spot happens.
Amenorrhea or Absence of a Menstrual Period
According to medical science, amenorrhea is defined as the consecutive absence of three or more menstrual cycles. Although not a disease, amenorrhea is a female health condition that may create issues in reproduction when accompanied by signs that in no way represents pregnancy. Heavy workouts act as a stimulator of this condition by interrupting the hormonal balance in your body that drives your menstrual cycles. In other words, when communication conducted by the part of the brain called the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland and ovaries via hormonal messages gets disrupted due to extensive exercising, you shall plausibly not ovulate and miss your periods.
Lighter Menstrual Flow
Extensive workouts can, sometimes, change your regular menstrual flow, making it a bit lighter. It is because when you are engrossed in heavy workouts, you lose a large amount of body weight! Herein, your body shall witness a decrease in the amount of estrogen that in response, shall decrease the build-up on your uterine lining and result in a thinner lining. Yes, the thinner the uterine lining, the lighter gets your menstrual flow!
The health condition in which your bones become weak & brittle is called Osteoporosis. Such a condition appears in the picture when you work out heavily during your periods and subsequently suffer from amenorrhea. During this phase, the arrival of new bones that were initially meant to replace the old ones does not occur any further. That’s how your bones tend to get porous & weak, creating health problems like back pain, receding gums, height loss, and others. When the absence of a menstrual cycle is the underlying cause behind the occurrence of osteoporosis, your ovaries are likely to get damaged.
What exercises to do during your periods?
As per John Thoppil, the most suitable exercise during periods is the one you find comfortable doing, and that needs to be something from the list given below.
Are you ready to know them? Sit back and continue reading!
Light Cardio Exercises
Well, you can primarily consider some light cardio exercises if you are a fitness freak and work out all around the year except for this particular time of the month. Did you know people who perform light cardio exercises are the ones to actually live longer? Yes, it is!
Originally known as cardiovascular exercises, light cardio exercises are those which can manage your weight, improve your mood, & ward off different heart diseases like hypertension, low blood pressure, etc.
These exercises have always been a vital part of your healthy lifestyle and a great way to keep your heart rate on the right track. In fact, such merit stays for a prolonged span of time.
By doing light cardio, you shall start to breathe faster, and consequently, your respiratory system shall work harder. Your blood vessels are likely to expand, thereby, bringing more oxygen to your muscles. At this time, your body shall release endorphins or natural painkillers. In turn, your mood is likely to elevate and wipe out period pains.
Some of the common cardio exercises that come to mind are –
You can also try something out of the box, such as –
- Jump Rope
- Some Organised Sports like soccer, basketball, flag football, and others.
Aerobic Exercises are somewhat similar to cardiovascular exercises, where your breathing & heart rate is certain to increase. The term aerobic implies ‘with oxygen’, and these exercises are primarily some efficient energy-generating processes. They are the endurance activities that can keep your heart, lungs, and blood circulation system healthy and active.
But, herein, you need to consult a doctor before entering into an exercise routine. There are some at-home aerobic exercises that can be beneficial during your periods and some at-gym ones for the same!
You require very little or no equipment to perform at-home aerobic exercises, and at the same time, you must keep a warm-up period for about five to ten minutes before starting to work out. They are –
- Aerobic Strength Circuit like squats, pushups, torso twists, lunges, etc.
On the other note, the at-gym aerobic exercises shall give you a bonus point to approach your trainer or the professional in place to assist you during the workout session. Some of the at-gym aerobic exercises that may aid you during your periods are –
- Stationary bike
- Elliptical machine
Also, if you are interested to try something out of the box, there remain a whole lot of aerobic class workouts, like –
- Indoor cycling
Disclaimer! The American Heart Association recommends an aerobic workout session that typically involves thirty minutes and not more. So, an extensive aerobic workout may create a health problem when you are doing it during your periods.
The aerobic exercises, of course, in their moderate intensity can help you reduce your period cramps and bloating that occurs while you are on your periods. They can simultaneously make you feel energetic and fresh during your periods.
Yoga, as always, aims to calm you down from the physical and emotional rush inside your body and create a soothing experience as a whole. It relaxes your cranky mood and increases blood circulation. Furthermore, it eases out your noxious complaints during periods!
Indeed, it is scientifically proven and tested that yoga can reduce your period cramps, breast tenderness, soreness, & muscular fatigue. As heavy yoga may even end up with a negative impact, it is better to be selective about the poses and postures.
Some of the safe & significant yoga poses that you can consider doing while on your periods are –
- Cobra Pose – You can do this pose by simply lying down with your feet & legs together and your hands under the shoulders. Now, push yourself up without moving your legs and hold yourself in that position for at least thirty to sixty seconds, depending on how long you can handle your balance. You have to take a deep breath while you are retaining yourself in the pushed-up position, and once you are done, lie down flat and relax.
- Fish Pose – First and foremost, you have to take a pillow and place that on the floor. Then, you have to lie over it and keep your arms away from the body. While doing this, you can also keep your knees up on flat feet to shrug off the pain in the lower back.
- Cat to Cow Pose – Just like cats or cows do, get on your hands and knees and fetch the support to your weight through your hands, keeping your shoulders wide apart. After that, you have to take a deep breath, push your stomach towards the ground, and simultaneously stretch your head. Now, you have to push yourself in the opposite way and curve yourself inward. While doing so, gently exhale. Repeat as long as you are comfortable.
The most trending workout these days, Pilates, is undoubtedly helpful in relaxing your body & mind. Are you wondering what they are exactly? Well, pilates is nothing but some target-specific moves tailoring the activeness of certain muscle groups. By essentially creating core strength, Pilates can minimize the severity of abdomen and stomach cramps.
They seek to improve the blood flow, especially to your pelvic muscle floors, and also, increase the metabolism rate. Thereupon, reducing bloating! It can eradicate fatigue and keep you active even when you are on your periods. It lessens premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and offers better sleep. So, you are likely to experience an overall healthy condition, both while being active and while taking rest, during this time of the month.
Walking is the most simple and organic exercise routine to follow when on your periods! Being low in intensity, walking can help your lungs work properly even in the later phase of your menstruation cycle. All you need to do is lace up your favorite pair of sneakers and get ready to hit the roads.
It shall not only uplift your mood and eliminate anxiety & depression while having periods but also enable you to burn some calories during this time. On the same note, walking is likely to ease symptoms like PMS or dysmenorrhoea.
Dr. Sreedhar, in an interview with the Indian Express newspaper, said that a thirty minutes of walk each day during your periods can help solve the worst period symptoms.
What exercises to avoid when on your periods?
Well, there is no such workout list that you have to entirely avoid when you are having your periods, however, some minor adjustments in the regular exercise routine shall stand requisite to ensure a regular menstrual flow.
Marcello stated that – the volume and time of workouts should be minimized – and precision training should be eliminated, during this phase. He further added, “ this does not mean to stop training – to the contrary, this just means to cut back a little bit.”
Heavy Weight Lifting or Endurance-type Training
Since the levels of estrogen & progesterone are at their lowest during the menstrual cycles, you feel extremely tired and lack energy. At that time, if and when you are wrapped with unusual tiredness, it is wise to avoid heavy weight lifting activities or endurance-type training.
While there are four different types of endurance training, namely, aerobic, anaerobic, strength, & speed, the latter three, in excessive rate, can turn out to be problematic when you bleed.
Likewise, lifting heavy weights during periods can also pose a threat to your physical health. The heavy weight lifting exercises are –
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Back Squat
- Single Arm Dumbbell Row
And a myriad more!
Inverted Yoga Moves
According to Greg Justice, the Author of ‘Mind Your Own Fitness’ and a certified trainer & exercise physiologist, entering into inverted yoga postures during the menstrual cycle can create different menstrual issues.
Inverted Yoga moves are those which involve standing on the support of your head or others like arches. In this context, Greg, laid an emphasis, particularly on the condition of vascular congestion occurring from inverted yoga moves that shall further result in excessive blood flow.
Some of the common inverted yoga moves to avoid during periods are –
- Shoulder Stands
- Head Stands
- Plough Pose
- Dolphin Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Legs-up-the Wall
- Child’s Pose
- Forearm Stand
Quick Facts on Menstruation and Workouts:
Are you still here, gathering insight about your menstrual health?
Then, do not hesitate to sit back for some more time and have a quick look at a few facts on menstruation & workouts!
- If you are unable to carry out any of the aforementioned exercises, you shall simply stay at home, doing a couple of forwarding bends, twists, and turns.
- A study in 2016 reveals that people who take yoga classes regularly experience fewer premenstrual symptoms like reduced breast tenderness or abdominal swelling.
- A comparison study executed in 2021 notes that people who drink 54 to 68 ounces of water per day are likely to find exercises more enjoyable and witness a reduction in menstrual pain.
- Pain relievers like Advil and Tylenol are useful to reduce period cramps right before a workout session.
- A study in 2018 shows how people who exercise for thirty minutes three days per week and continue this routine for about eight weeks have less menstrual pain when compared with people who do not.
- Female bodybuilders and those who perform extreme fitness exercises can suffer from the temporary cessation of menstruation. It is when body fat declines up to 20%.
- Since your metabolism rate shall go down during menstruation, you require a calorie intake of at least 20-25%.
- Doctors suggest not to opt for a workout session of 90 minutes straight and instead suggest cutting it short to 30 minutes or so!
Now, it’s time to wrap up! I hope this article serves the purpose and may help you follow a proper workout routine when you are on your periods. For more queries about how to indulge in a proper exercise session during your periods, write to us at HealthFinder.com. You can also drop an email at [email protected].
Stay tuned, Stay safe!
You may also read this article: Why does your Uterus get weak after a certain age?