By Toni BrannaganMedically reviewed by Dr. Brandi Jones, DO
For a loooong time, people with periods were told to avoid a whole bunch of things while they were menstruating that were—surprise—pretty much made up. One of those things? Physical activity of any kind.
While we now know that we’re allowed to do whatever we damn want, I totally understand why you might be inclined to skip your weekly SoulCycle during your period. (Seriously, “whatever we damn want” def still includes opting out of physical activity of any kind, don’t worry.) However, there are a few pros to hitting the gym during your period week that might be worth considering. And if you’re feeling bloat-y and *bleh*, remember that every workout doesn’t have to be intense! Opt for slower, low-impact exercises like yoga, pilates, or walking to the bodega that’s kinda far from your apartment but carries the ice cream you like (It counts, okay?).
Just be mindful that you’re not over-exerting your body — take the breaks you need, don’t ever try to *push through* pain, and make sure you’re wearing a comfy pair of light, moisture-wicking undies to keep things ~fresh~ down there, while you’re at it!
Here are some of the benefits of keeping things active while you flow:
Chances are, your period has left you feeling a little sluggish. While you probably want to go about your day as slowly as possible, subverting your body’s instincts can give you the boost you need.
Not to get too science-y, but the reason you’re usually exhausted during your period in the first place is because your hormones go all over the place once your body realizes it doesn’t have to continue developing an environment for a potential fetus — as we all know, your hormone levels have the power to mess with a whole bunch of things going on in your body, and these changes (all happening *rapidly*) are tiring AF.
Regular exercise, on the other hand, positively affects and balances your hormone levels. Still, keep in mind that your body will yield the best, most consistent results when workouts are a part of your normal routine.
ease your cramps
When you’re getting into the groove of a good workout, your body releases tiny neurotransmitters called endorphins. They’re a natural painkiller and they’re the best. Endorphins are so effective, this study even shows that they could be an effective pain reliever for people giving birth, which is pretty metal. Getting your heart rate up also increases blood circulation, doing wonders for period week aches in your abdomen and lower back.
naturally boost your mood
As Elle Woods once said, everyone knows that endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands! Let’s focus on that first part: the same hormones that will keep you from reaching for another cup of coffee at 2 p.m. also deliver a nice li’l boost to your mood.
The best part is, if high intensity workouts aren’t your thing, you can still reap the benefits — doing a long workout for a steady amount of time will also do the trick. If you know anyone who considers running a hobby for some reason (do you, I guess?), this is also what they mean by a Runner’s High.
get them #gains
I obviously don’t know if this is how you use this phrase, pls don’t call me out on it.
Anywaaay, you might be surprised to hear your period week could be the most efficient time for you to hit the gym. According to this study from Umeå University in Sweden, women who worked out on their period reported increased muscle mass and greater overall strength than when they worked out during other weeks of their cycle.
Despite these benefits, don’t forget to check in with yourself. If your pain gets worse or you start to feel nauseous or dizzy at any point during your workout, STOP. HYDRATE. Know your body and its limits!
Does writing about working out count as working out? Whatever, I’m tired. What’s your fave shark week sweat sesh? Share your go-tos with us in the comments!