For many women, finding the motivation to exercise daily can be a mental fight, so when mother nature rolls in, it almost seems sensible to give your body a break – but this is not the case.

Our hormones can fluctuate throughout the month and when our periods begin, it is something we should be mindful of.

Periods can be painful and a lot of the time, very inconvenient and for many women exercise is often the LAST thing we want to be doing.

But would you be encouraged to exercise if you knew that it can actually help alleviate your symptoms? Yes, it’s true, light exercise has been proven to help with the following symptoms:

  • Cramps
  • Pain
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Nausea

So, if you do suffer from painful periods, light exercise may just help you through it and understanding your body, is always the first step.

Our hormones rise and fall throughout the month and on the first day of our cycle, our oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest but they well rise as the days go by.

So naturally, when we have low oestrogen and progesterone levels we will feel symptoms of fatigue, sore breasts and mood swings which is why it is really beneficial to adjust our workout routine to fit around this.

In terms of exercise during the first few days, physical performance can be disrupted by all of the above. This is the time where I might do shorter and lower intensity workouts and look to focus more on Pilates-based workouts, concentrating on mobility and strength.

The good news is, that most of us see a decrease in period pains after a workout. Studies have also shown resistance training during your follicular phase will result in more strength gains. Using your own bodyweight or light weights is a great option here.

Following the first week of our cycle our oestrogen and progesterone levels rise and this may be the best time to train harder and incorporate workouts such a HIIT and cardio into your routine.

Studies show when training during this time, we witness an increase in muscle strength and development, compared with any other time in the month. BUT taking care and being mindful of our technique is essential more than ever.

Statistics show women are three to six times more likely than men to suffer musculoskeletal injuries in this phase leading up to ovulation, particularly tendon and anterior cruciate ligament injuries when oestrogen levels are high. 

Around day 12-16 most of us are firing off all cylinders. Energy levels are at their highest and now is the time to push yourself physically.

We often now have additional endurance due to low progesterone and a higher level of oestrogen, which increases our pain tolerance and builds muscle, allowing us to work out even harder – so make the most of this window, as it doesn’t last long!

When our cycle does come around it is absolutely OK to exercise. It’s also super useful and important to listen to your mind and body and what it really needs. If you really feel like you need a break – take it. Otherwise, try some light exercise and build on that throughout the week.

Once we enter the luteal phase of our cycle (day 14-28), hormones begin to shift and this is when cravings can kick in, premenstrual tension is at its highest and energy levels can drop. Our heart rate increases during the luteal phase which means our workouts may feel harder.

Coordination can be affected too and our metabolic rate increases which can lead to those all too familiar cravings and drop in energy levels.

It’s important to remember this happens to us all and to not be disheartened.  Instead, schedule this phase into your schedule. This will be when I look to have more rest days but focus on cardio workouts rather than strength.

This doesn’t mean you have to change your training but by modifying your intensity appropriately, you can still enjoy a HIIT or Pilates class but perhaps at a slightly pared back pace.

Although our cycle can dictate how we feel and therefore our physical output, it’s worth remembering that exercise throughout your cycle makes us all feel better.  So, there should be no excuses not to exercise!

Maximising on the different stages of our cycle means we are able to continuously exercise through our cycle but tailor workouts to make sure we get the best results.

If you are looking to have a more structured workout routine with a wide variety of different workouts from Pilates to HIIT, Strength training and bands, weights are barre then check out our app!

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