Is exercise good for you while on your period?

Have you ever been told you should work out while you have your period? That it’ll make you feel better? I have too. I used to take this advice at face value and follow it on a monthly basis, since it helped alleviate my cramps for a couple hours. But then something changed. I changed. And no longer did this menstrual ritual help me. So what the heck happened?

Now every time I tried to go for a gentle jog, my cramps would get worse. And I wanted to curl into a ball in my bed and shut the world out.  My body had changed over the years and all the signs were subtle. And I didn’t think they had anything to do with each other. But all of our bodily systems are connected, so if we are deficient in some it can spread to others. (In my case, I had digestive problems which ‘bled’ into my bleeding.)

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Biochemical individuality

So let’s get to the bottom of this.

We are all different. We cannot put a blanket prescription on everyone like “do some light exercise while on your period and it’ll be good for you.” It’s called biochemical individuality. It’s why tomatoes taste good to some and not others. It’s why medications work for some and not others. It’s why any ‘cure’ never works for everyone.

We are all different. We have different biochemical makeups of our physical bodies, we have different opinions on what things should work, we have different emotions about things that are happening with us, we have different psychological conditioning. And all of these things combined can make us into a different 1,000 piece puzzle. You know, the kind of puzzles that take forever to finish.

So yes – some of you should exercise lightly while menstruating and it will help to move things along. Listen to your body. If it responds well to light exercise, meaning you don’t feel drained afterwards and you generally feel better, go for it.

What do we mean by lightly exercising?

Walking, stretching, restorative yoga. Vigorous exercise during your period is not suggested for anyone. Think of menstruation as a time of cleansing. Your body is cleaning out your uterus by shedding blood and in order to do this it is expending a lot of energy. If you choose to vigorously exercise during this time, it is wasting the energy that is needed for a proper, healthy blood flow.

It is more appropriate to exercise in the days leading up to your period to promote the proper flow of energy. Exercise in this time also helps with mood swings and lethargy. Then once your period is here, take this time to relax and rest. Only engage in walking, stretching and restorative yoga. Then once it is gone, you can go back to whatever moderate to vigorous exercise routine you love.

Why you should workout on your period_2

What exactly is a healthy menstruation?

Now this part may get a little queasy for some, but I feel it is important for all of us to really understand what a healthy menstruation consists of and looks like. I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t learn about what a healthy period is when I was young.

A healthy menstruation should come every 26-30 days, with no premenstrual physical or emotional discomfort, no pain, with a moderate flow (needing to change a pad or tampon every 3-4 hours), no clots, no spotting and that consistently lasts 4-5 days. The color should be a medium red color and end concisely (no lingering spotting beyond the fifth or sixth day).

If this is NOT how you experience your monthly moon, then you may want to consider getting to the root of the issue by seeing a healthcare practitioner that deals with this sort of issue.

Some ways to help with your flow:

1. Decrease refined sugar & flour, alcohol, coffee, tea & chocolate. These things can mess with your hormone levels and hence your menstruation. Try reducing these for a healthier flow.

2. Avoid pesticides. Many pesticides contain chemicals that disrupt the hormones in your body. Eat organic whenever possible.

3. Use beauty/hygiene products that do not contain hormone disruptors. Nail polishes, makeup, soap, shampoo and conditioner… there is a plethora of beauty products on the market that contain chemicals which mess with your hormones and hence your monthly flow.

4. Make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. This time of the month is associated with lower levels of certain nutrients. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin B6, Vitamin D3, Calcium, Magnesium, and Essential Fatty Acids (fish oils, flax seed oils).

5. Learn how to manage your stress. Stress always complicates how our physiology works. Find a way to cope with your stress such as meditating, being in nature, exercise, or anything else that helps you.

I hope this sheds some light on how you can better handle your monthly moon! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on social media or my website which you can find on my profile page.

My love,

Dr. Kristin

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