By Kelsey Duchesne
When I’m on my period, the last thing I typically want to do is exercise (aside from putting on real pants, of course), but I know that if I take a week off it’s going to make slipping on sneakers a lot more challenging the following week. One of my resolutions for 2017 (bc yes, I still write resolutions and still record them in an actual journal) was to find physical activities that I can still participate without furthering the severity of my cramps and falling off the treadmill. After a little research and trying out these activities on my last cycle, I present my ~favorite~ physical activities while I’m on my period:
LONG WALKS (on the way to get a treat?):
During my period I often want a treat, often in the traditional chocolate realm. Even on days that I feel like a swollen, pimpley mess, I try to balance out my cravings by engaging in a simple, yet rewarding activity-- a suuuper long stroll. The Mayo clinic suggests walking with good posture with your head up, shoulders relaxed, and let your arms swing at your sides as you walk to receive the best possible workout. I took a 45 minute walk with my friend on the first day of my period, and we celebrated by ending our stroll with a hot chocolate, extra chocolatey. It’s all about balance, right?
I’m not talkin' heat yoga friends, I promise! I did some low-impact yoga during the second and third day of my period (arguably my most crampy days) and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the workout went. While I did attend classes, I was encouraged to go at my own pace and only tried poses that were relatively comfortable and didn’t further aggravate my cramps (ok, I’ll admit-- I did a lot of downward dog). The instructors focus on "keeping calm" and "finding my center" did lower my anxiety and stress during the session (my instructor seemed to have the voice of an angel, as almost all yoga instructors seem to have?). I did manage to break a sweat in the one hour class, and stretching out my body-- which is often very tense during cramping-- made it easier to relax in bed with my heating pad later that evening.
I hadn’t initially thought to swim on my period, as a large body of water + period blood tends to ignite the Jaws theme song in my head (and of course, can be unsanitary if you don't properly prepare). However, putting a fresh tampon in right before your swim will prevent any leaking, and I chose to swim on the forth and fifth days, when the cramps are still present but my flow is light. The weightless feeling and comfortable water temperature is incredibly soothing, and takes a little pressure off your crampy uterus as you focus on strengthening your arms and legs. This was my favorite physical activity while menstruating, and I found the quiet YMCA pool to be stress-reducing and a great way to clear my head.
Alright, not really a *physical* activity, but after all the cramping, your body deserves a rest! I like to treat myself with a few extra hours of sleep (i.e. dozing off at 9:30 with When Harry Met Sally on in the background and popcorn within reach). Your body is working extra hard during your period cycle, and while keeping up with your workout routine is important, allowing your body to relax is too!
What physical activities do you enjoy during your period? Let us know in the comments below!