Exercise and Periods

Written by: Ciella Berman
Published: October 20, 2022

Is it safe for me to exercise when I’m on my period?

When it comes to exercising during our menstrual cycle many women are unsure if it’s okay to still exercise and have uncertainty around whether exercise should be engaged in. When we experience a period, our bodies are undergoing a hormonal and physical change. This can cause an array of side effects from fatigue, low energy, uterine cramps, and body aches. Despite this being normal, these side effects of a period often create a barrier to exercise for many females. Periods can be especially difficult for females who have been diagnosed with conditions such as Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis, two conditions which often aren’t talked about. These conditions in particular can cause heavier and more painful periods in those diagnosed. This can create an additional barrier for woman who are already feeling tired and fatigued.

All though it might be a thought to avoid exercise if you are experiencing these side effects it’s important to know that no research to date has found exercise to be unsafe for woman when on their period, even if they’ve been diagnosed with a condition such as Endometriosis or PCOS. Research has actually shown that engaging in regular exercise whilst on your period can improve mood and circulation. These benefits have shown to correlate with a reduction in the severity of painful cramps, headaches, back pain, and other types of pain that can result from a period.

Are there any considerations I should make when planning to exercise on my period?

Although, it is still safe to exercise whilst we are on our period it’s still important to listen to our body and be mindful of how you’re feeling when engaging in your exercise session. If you are feeling fatigued, but still wanting to get a session done, it’s recommended that you reduce your training stress and volume. This can be as simple as dropping the amount of weight, cutting out a set, reducing the number of repetitions you complete or increasing your rest periods to give yourself adequate recovery time. Other recommendations include avoiding endurance or long exercise events that may further exacerbate your fatigue.

When it comes to pain, walking has shown to be effective in reducing the severity of a cramp or ache. Simple movements such as light dynamic stretching can also help stretch out tight areas around the pelvis which can help relieve cramping symptoms. When experiencing lower back and hip aches it’s best to avoid high impact and plyometric style lower body exercises as they can exacerbate symptoms. If experiencing uterine cramps, it’s best to avoid high force abdominal exercises such as crunches and mountain climbers.

Main Take-Away Points

  • Continue with your normal exercise routine even when on your period
  • Reduce the volume of your training if feeling fatigued
  • Regular exercise whilst on your period can help alleviate symptoms
  • Avoid high impact exercises