Period Workout Ideas, Because You Deserve to Feel Better While Bleeding

I’m having a particularly gross and rough period, and it got me thinking: as much as I don’t want to move, would getting up and working out make me feel better? I’ve been going on walks, and that’s helped – what more can I do?

Now, almost 100% of the time I workout through my period, because I’ve always been an athlete. I usually don’t actually take my period into consideration when I work out, though.

Usually, I’m annoyed at my cramps and bloating and lack of motivation or strength brought on by bleeding. Honestly, I’m still annoyed by all of that. But since I’m not competing right now (thanks I guess, pandemic) I have a chance to try some new period-pain-and-fatigue-fighting moves on purpose.

Cardio

Supposedly, you burn more calories on your period. On the other hand, some people (me included) get easily winded and weak on their periods. Exercise in general is going to get your endorphins going, and I definitely benefit from a nice “runner’s high” – so I’d recommend doing at least a bit of cardio before and during a period.

Strength

Some websites say you should avoid heavy strength stuff during your period, because how difficult you think a weight is to pick up will differ. I don’t disagree. However I think it’s important to note that good competitive weight lifters know you have to pay attention to the way your body feels every day, blood or no blood. If I don’t get enough sleep, don’t eat enough good food, or feel particularly stressed/anxious I feel just as weak as I do while I’m menstruating. Now, interestingly, there is a study that found “the first two weeks of your menstrual cycle (day one being the first day of your period) may allow you to experience greater gains in strength and power due to low levels of female hormones” (Healthline).

Some sites, like Women’s Health Mag, suggest days 6-14 of your cycle (assuming a ~28 day cycle) are when you should do your hardest workouts, as estrogen peaks around this time. For athletes who generally work out with competition dates in mind and may not have as much scheduling flexibility, I suggest keeping close track of how your body behaves during the month and figuring out what makes you feel strong when you need to feel strong. For me, when I know my period approaches I’m sure to get plenty of extra iron, water, and rest (not iron like lifting iron, iron that prevents anemia iron).

Core-focused

Personally, I find that workouts focused on core, whether it be a yoga practice or the regular crunches, help my cramps feel a little bit better and help me feel a little less bloated. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bloating; frankly I think teaching menstruators that they should always look good, even while they feel like crap, is ridiculous. But when I’m bloated I just physically do not feel good – it’s like being constantly stuffed after a Thanksgiving meal, except I didn’t get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

Getting my core moving helps with my cramps, my bloating, and my mood. I prefer things like V-ups or the traditional ol’ crunches over planks because planks are just stagnant, and I end up just hyperfocusing on the pain in my uterus. Overall, find what works for you with trial and error – working out during your period isn’t going to hurt you or affect your fertility or anything wild like that. You can also always talk to a gynecologist, nutritionist, or other certified practitioner you’re comfortable with. ✿

Sources

(1) Healthline

(2) Women’s Health Mag

(3) my own experience as a competitive powerlifter from late high school through college (and volleyball/softball player prior)

(4) my mom (she’s a certified personal trainer)

(5) my roommate (she’s a certified yoga instructor who loves running and cycling as well)


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