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Exercise During Your Period & Each Stage Of Your Cycle


Hormonal fluctuations throughout the whole menstrual cycle can have a range of effects on energy levels and exercise performance — with particular forms of exercise that may be better suited to your energy levels and hormones at each stage of your cycle.


When scheduling your workouts, it’s worth taking into account where you are in your cycle and how this might affect your training. The average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days and then repeats, and there are four main phases to your cycle. The length of each phase varies from person.


Exercising during your period

It’s that time of the month — the menstrual phase. This is when you’re menstruating, or when you’re actually on your period. But what actually is happening in your body during your period, and how can you best support your body while menstruating?

During the menstrual phase, your uterus is shedding the lining it has built up throughout the month. This will typically be days 1 to 7 of your cycle. At the very beginning of your period, your progesterone and oestrogen levels will be at their lowest, which along with the loss of blood may cause you to feel depleted of energy. As your period goes on, these hormone levels will gradually increase.

If you experience feeling fatigue during the early days of your period, you may not necessarily feel like doing much intense exercise. However, if you feel physically able, there is no medical reason to not exercise during the menstrual phase of your period.

How should you exercise when you have your period?

You have likely heard mixed messages about how you should exercise, or if you should exercise at all while menstruating.


So how should you exercise during the menstrual phase? Ultimately it is up to you, and your energy levels during your period. But if you do choose to exercise during your period, it may be a good idea to reduce the intensity of your workouts due to the likelihood of decreased energy. Here are some suggestions for exercise you could do during the menstrual phase.


Relaxing yoga like yin yoga, restorative, nurturing yoga or gentle stretching.

If a full workout doesn’t feel right for you during your period, then doing some nurturing yoga

can be a great way to release tension and stress, and calm down your mind and body. Asanas such as child’s pose, reclined spinal twist, and cat-cow are all poses that can help to relieve tension in your lower back and pelvis and help with period pains. You can book onto one of our yoga classes here.


Walking or light cardio

Walking is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise. During the menstrual phase it’s likely a good idea to reduce the intensity of your cardio by going for a long walk, or maybe a slower-paced jog. Walking is a great option which you can easily do to keep fit while on your period.

Lighter strength training

You can continue to do strength training during the menstrual phase of your period, but at this stage it might be wise to reduce the weights of your workout. Due to increased fatigue, the menstrual phase is not the time to push yourself too hard — so try sticking to where you’re currently at or even taking it a little easier than usual.


Exercising during the follicular phase

Your period is over — and you’re in the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle. Let’s take a look at how you can best exercise during this phase of the month.


During the follicular phase, your body creates a hormone known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone signals to the ovaries to create eggs for the ovulation phase, each of which is housed inside a “follicle”. After menstruation is over your oestrogen levels get a big boost as your body prepares to release an egg — which is usually associated with increased energy.

How should you exercise during the follicular phase?

During the follicular phase is a good time to make use of your increased energy to challenge yourself, as well as trying new things in your exercise routine.


During your follicular phase when energy is high, you may like to try pushing yourself a little more with strength training. This could mean challenging yourself with heavier weights or trying push-ups on your toes instead of on your knees. If you’re new to strength training, you can start with some body weight exercises to build up your confidence.

Exercising during the ovulation phase

The ovulation phase of your cycle is just after the follicular phase, typically for 3 to 5 days between the follicular and luteal phase — days 12 to 19 of your cycle. During this phase, you’ll still have high levels of oestrogen from the increase during the follicular phase, while also having increased levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone. LH is what triggers the body to start ovulating.

Ovulation, like the follicular phase, will most likely be a high-energy time. If that’s the case, you can capitalise on this by performing high-energy workouts.


How should you exercise during the ovulation phase?

For the most part, you can continue to perform high-intensity exercises that you were doing during the follicular phase. You might also like to try running, or switch up the style of cardio you do — if you've been doing Tabata-style HIIT, why not mix it up and try circuit training instead? Looking for a great local circuits class? Come try our classes.


Exercising during the luteal phase

The last phase of your menstrual cycle — before menstruation — is the luteal phase. This typically lasts 14 days, between days 20-28. During the first part of the luteal phase, you’ll likely still have energy from ovulation, which will begin to decline the closer you get to menstruation.

The luteal phase is characterised by a peak in progesterone levels — which can make some people feel drowsy.


How should you exercise during the luteal phase?

During the luteal phase, you can absolutely continue with your workouts as usual, but you may experience some more difficulty with completing them with the same intensity. Here are some exercises you might like to try during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.


During the luteal phase when you are about to get your period and energy levels may be lower, this is a great time to practice yoga or Pilates — both of which gently increase overall strength while also releasing muscle tension. If you’re new to yoga, you can start with this 7 day Sun Salutation Challenge. or book onto one of our yoga classes here


Low-intensity cardio

During the luteal phase, you may like to try low-intensity cardio training: this could be going for a long walk, a few laps of swimming in the ocean or pool or going for a bike ride.


Track your period to know your cycle

To know which phase of your cycle you are in, it’s important to track your period. You can do this the old-fashioned way by using a calendar and mapping out when you have your period and your symptoms or use a period tracking app.

Tracking your cycle can allow you to become more familiar with how your unique cycle works, and how the different phases of your cycle influence your energy levels, mood, and exercise performance.


Should you alter your exercise schedule throughout your cycle?

This will really depend on how you are feeling throughout the different stages of your cycle, and the type of training that you prefer to do.


Exercising during your period: do what’s right for you

While there is scientific evidence to show that your hormones can affect your exercise performance during different menstrual phases, this doesn’t mean that there is a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to exercising.

You might find that you have lots of energy during your period or even in the mid-luteal phase. If that’s the case, you don’t need to adjust your training around your cycle.

Tracking your period is a great way to stay on top of your health and understand your hormonal fluctuations, but it doesn’t need to be the ultimate determinant of what exercise you do. Do what feels right for you, and remember that any kind of exercise — even if it’s just a stretching session — and practising healthy habits are great for your health in the long run.


Ride the highs and lows of your cycle!

It can often feel like we’re at the mercy of our bodies every month. Swinging wildly from one extreme to the other. Blissfully and joyfully happy one minute...and ready to crawl under a duvet the next. Listen to your body and honour your cycle. Use your body’s biological wisdom as a power source. Your body wasn’t designed to feel the same way every day. Women are cyclical beings. Some days you’re better at asserting yourself, other days you're at a creative peak, sometimes you’re more suited to rest and reflection.


Having a deep understanding of each of your 4 phases, can give you helpful cues and more compassion for your ever-changing abilities and moods.

You can shift from managing your to-do list to managing your energy instead. You’ll learn when to push and when to give yourself a break.


When you’re empowered to recognize your own patterns, you can thrive each day of the month instead of just surviving.


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