A woman’s menstrual cycle involves the process of menstruation and ovulation that occurs between puberty and menopause, with the exception of during pregnancy. Female hormones control the menstrual cycle and the normal bleeding that occurs during the month. Many women don’t feel much like exercising during their menstrual cycle because they experience bloating, headaches, and cramps. But you can actually relieve some of these symptoms by using exercise to your advantage.
Here are some ways to craft your workouts around your menstrual cycle to feel your best and keep up with healthy exercise.
The Connection Between Menstruation and Exercise
Women’s hormones are in flux during their menstrual cycles, which can affect energy levels and the workout experience. Exercise can be very beneficial during the menstrual cycle, but you need to be mindful about how your body is feeling and take it easy if you feel fatigued or cramping. Some exercises may feel harder or easier to do based on where you are at with your menstrual cycle at that time.
Menstruation Phase Exercise
The days in which you have your period is the menstruation phase and when your body is shedding the lining of the uterus. During this time, many women feel lower stamina and reduced endurance levels. This is not the best time to do hardcore cardio activities ort lift heavy weights. Instead, focus your workouts on yoga, swimming, bike rides, and body-sculpting with light weights.
Follicular Phase Exercise
The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle begins when your period starts but continues on past that until ovulation begins. At this time, you may feel your energy levels increase due to rises in estrogen. This is a good time to pick up with running, boxing, and heaving lifting. High intensity workouts will feel good during the follicular phase and get your body feeling back to normal.
Ovulation Phase Exercise
Ovulation only takes place for about three or four days during the menstrual cycle and is when an egg is released from the ovary and toward the uterus. You will likely continue to feel good energy levels during this time, so high-intensity workouts are good during this phase. However, some women experience bloating and abdominal pain during ovulation, so if this happens, reduce the intensity of your workouts.
Luteal Phase Exercise
The longest phase of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase – about two weeks. Many women experience high energy during the first half or so of this phase but declines in energy during the second half of it. There is an increase in the progesterone hormone in the body during the luteal phase that causes this sensation. If you start feeling fatigued during the luteal phase, reduce the intensity of your workouts and remember to take rest days.
Other Menstrual Cycle and Exercise Tips
To keep track of what phase your menstrual cycle is in, you can use a mobile app for tracking or simply mark it on a calendar. The important takeaway from all of this is to listen to your body and do what feels right based on how you’re feeling as hormones shift from one phase to the next. Every woman’s body is unique, but these guidelines are a good basis of how to plan your workouts if you are training for an event, trying to get in better shape, or just maintaining overall health.
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