Exercise may be the last thing on your mind during periods unless you are a fitness enthusiast. While some women abstain from exercise during menstruation, others feel it is important to workout during periods. But should you or should you not exercise during periods? As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, a balanced exercise routine during menstruation is vital for a woman to maintain their overall health and well-being.
The importance of exercise during menstruation cannot be understated as it is extremely beneficial for a woman, Dr Parinita Kalita, Senior Consultant of Obstetrics And Gynaecology, at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi, tells Health Shots.
Benefits of exercising during periods
Did you know that exercising during periods improves mental and physical well-being? Dr Kalita says engaging in physical activity during this phase of the menstrual cycle stimulates the release of endorphins, reduces mood swings and alleviates stress. Together, these help to improve mental and physical well-being. Furthermore, exercise enhances blood circulation, potentially easing menstrual cramps.
Prioritising exercise during periods can help women establish a harmonious balance between their bodies and a consistent fitness routine throughout their entire menstrual cycle, she adds. A study published in the journal Women and Health found that women who exercised during periods reported less pain than women who didn’t. However, can you do all sorts of exercises during periods? While working out during periods is recommended, there are certain exercises that women should avoid.
Exercises to avoid during periods
While exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, it is important to be aware that certain exercises may not be suitable or comfortable during menstruation. Dr Kalita recommends avoiding the following exercises during periods:
1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT training generally includes intense bursts of activity followed by short recovery periods, which may not be ideal during menstruation. The rigorous nature of HIIT exercises can potentially exacerbate cramps and discomfort. Thus, opting for low-impact exercises that provide gentle movement and promote relaxation is a more suitable choice during this time.
2. Heavy weightlifting
Lifting heavy weights can place excessive strain on the abdominal area, potentially aggravating cramping. Adjusting the intensity of weightlifting exercises by opting for lighter weights with higher repetitions or focusing on strengthening exercises for other muscle groups can still provide an effective workout without compromising comfort.
3. Inversions and yoga twists
Acknowledging the importance of maintaining equilibrium, it is advisable to avoid poses involving inversions, such as headstands or shoulder stands, and deep twisting movements during menstruation. These positions can disrupt blood flow to the uterus and intensify cramps.
4. High-Impact cardio
High-impact cardio activities like running, jumping, or intense aerobics classes during menstruation involve repetitive movements that can cause discomfort due to increased pressure on the abdomen. Opting for low-impact exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling offers the benefits of cardiovascular activity while minimising potential discomfort.
5. Abdominal crunches and sit-ups
Crunches and sit-ups during menstruation can strain the pelvic area, exacerbating menstrual cramps. Exploring alternative core-strengthening exercises such as planks, bridges, or pelvic floor exercises allows for engaging the abdominal muscles without placing excessive pressure on the uterus.