How to feel comfortable (and confident) exercising during your period


Every month, a woman's cycle impacts how they exercise. Here are five ways to make you feel more comfortable moving during your period


Why is it that some days exercise can seem super easy and leave you energised – while on other days the same workout feels like moving through treacle and at the end you feel exhausted?

There are many factors at play, but one that women often fail to consider is where they are in their menstrual cycle. Exercising during your period is often the last thing anyone wants to be doing. You might be feeling self-conscious and apprehensive about getting out and about in exercise gear.

However, performing some light exercise has been proven to relieve symptoms, such as pain, cramps, bloating, mood swings, fatigue, and nausea.

Here are five things we can do to feel more confident and at ease while engaging in physical activity on our periods - handy considering you’re likely to have more than 400 periods during your lifetime.

Red alert

Knowing the stages of your cycle allows you to work with its ebbs and flows. Period-tracking apps, like Flo and Clue, are often used to inform users when to expect their period or when is best to try and conceive. This is known as cycle-mapping.

But did you know that cycle-mapping can also help to maximise your physical activity? According to personal trainer Jacqueline Hooton, your hormones can play a huge role in your exercise routine, from injury risk to muscle strength recovery.

One study, for example, found that the first 14 days of your menstrual cycle is a better time to optimise resistance training than the last two weeks. An increase in strength while you are on your period means, it’s a good time to take part in power-based strength training.

So, it’s worth knowing where you are in your cycle in order to optimise your physical activity – even if it’s just to make sure you don’t overdo it on a run or bike ride.

Pack a period kit

When on your period it’s comforting to know you have provisions for every eventuality. If you struggle with irregular periods, having the necessary items to hand can be a source of comfort.

Putting a period pack together, in a wash or make-up bag, with all your essentials ensures you’re covered. This will give you confidence for when you visit your local gym, local parkrun or swimming pool and help you deal with anything that comes your way.

Here are a few suggestions to include in your period pack:

  • Back up underwear
  • Pads, tampons or menstrual cup
  • Painkillers – paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin help relieve pain
  • A pack of tissues
  • Panty liners

Don’t forget, as items get used, to top them up when running low.

Don’t let your period cramp your style

Where we are on the menstrual cycle might affect the type of clothing we wear when being active. Here, colour and comfort are key.

Depending on your symptoms, whether that be bloating or irritability, loose-fit clothing is easier to move in and more comfortable.

According to the NHS, you may bleed more heavily when you exercise, so it’s a good idea to have extra precautions in place.

Thankfully, brands like Adidas, Thinx and ModiBodi have designed period-proof activewear that help protect you against unwanted accidents.

So, don’t let your period cramp your style and enjoy your workout without the added concern of leakages.

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Get your stretch on

Incorporating light movement before and after exercise is important for our bodies. Studies have shown that slow movement before an aerobic workout can reduce muscle soreness, increase blood flow and lessen the risk of injury .

Yet, what people often don’t realise is that movement and stretching, can alleviate painful menstrual symptoms by improving blood flow around areas that are feeling sensitive and release tension too.

Light exercise also makes you feel more positive and less irritable by practising mindfulness with the use of the breath and releasing endorphins, the good feel hormone.

Beat the bloat

The benefits of staying hydrated and consuming the right foods are commonly known. During your cycle drinking enough liquids can help with the unpleasant side effects, such as bloating and constipation.

Researchers found that by drinking water it significantly weakened menstrual pain, which can make exercise more enjoyable. You can also eat water-rich foods, like watermelon and cucumber.

It’s important to note that at this time your iron levels might dip and you might be craving more food than usual. Sweet fruits and leafy green vegetables are a great source of nutrients to consume whilst in your cycle.

The sweet fruit can help satisfy sugar cravings without resorting to refined sugars, which can cause glucose levels to spike and crash. Whereas leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, can restore iron levels and support energy levels to help keep you going for longer.

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