It’s normal to want to hibernate when you are in the throes of your monthly discomfort, but you are more than just a slave to your hormonal shifts. The good news is you can alleviate some of the aches and pains (and improve your mood) before and during your period through exercise.
Take into consideration the weeks in your cycle, too. Your hormone levels often present optimal windows for ideal workouts.
Week 1: The bloody week!
Low estrogen on the first day of your period is your optimal time for hardcore exercising. When you’re bleeding, cramping, and want to bite off the head of everyone you come in contact with, the last thing on your mind is heading to the gym for a workout. Try boxing for all that pent up box of random emotions. If you’re just in the dumps and not feeling the way your exercise leggings are clinging to your body, just go for a walk. Even light movements will help reduce inflammation caused by your period.
If bodybuilding is more of your flavor, consider doing your high-intensity workouts this week. Your estrogen level will be at its lowest on the first day of your period, but it will be rising steadily, which is said to aid muscle building. It will also get your mind off of the pain and general discomfort happening between your legs.
As a reward, you can also load up on pasta, as this is the time where your body burns carbohydrates instead of fat. You’re already off to a good start!
Week 2: Post-period week
If you have a regular cycle, your estrogen level is highest mid-way, which is around two weeks after the first day of bleeding. Peak estrogen levels mean ovulation, but in terms of working out, it could also open you up to more injuries. Try to keep it light and relaxing, perhaps a few yoga sessions.
Week 3 and 4: The Chill and PMS weeks
Pre-menstrual syndrome usually manifests the week before your period. Fatigue, irritability, and mood swings kick in during this week. Estrogen takes a dip, but will rise again in a matter of days. Progesterone levels also rise at this time which would explain the bouts of sadness you may experience. Progesterone also slows down digestion and increases water retention.
Out of all the phases in your cycle, this sluggish week filled with a bevy of emotions from hormonal chaos is actually an ideal time to work out! Exercise does wonders for your mood and keeping yourself moving will only benefit your cycle in a positive way. An active lifestyle will keep those period cramps to a minimum, and will lessen complications of diseases such as PCOS.
Uplifting workouts such as Zumba and group workouts are ideal for this week. Pilates, indoor cycling — take all the classes! Your estrogen and progesterone levels allow you to burn more fat, and the sweating will combat the water retention. Enjoy putting on your athletic wear and get moving!
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