Updated: Mar 8, 2021
I get it, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you're bloated, cramping, and cranky. Exercise can help alleviate PMS symptoms and is perfectly safe to do on all days of your cycle.
You may want to back off the intensity of your workouts during this time, or change up the type of workout you do. Some days all I can manage is an easy walk and that's ok. Honor how you're feeling each day and do what feels good to you.
I mean if this isn't the most accurate right?!
Let's break down the different phases of your menstrual cycle, how long each phase lasts (days) and how to adjust your workout routine if desired.
Menstruation (3-7 days): aka your period, aka the shedding of the uterine lining. Your energy levels may be at their lowest during this time as luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone, and estrogen levels are at their lowest. Gentle yoga, walking, stretching or pilates may feel the best right now. If you have the energy for higher intensity exercise go for it, your less likely to be injured during this phase!
The follicular phase (7-10 days): aka the time between the first day of the period and ovulation. Estrogen rises as an egg prepares to be released, this also creates an increase in creativity and openness to new experiences. This is a great time to try a new class like dance or another creative movement.
Ovulation phase (3-5 days): The release of the egg from the ovary, mid-cycle. Estrogen, FSH, and LH peak causing increased energy levels! This is an ideal time to try a HIIT or spin class with friends as you're also more socialable. At the tail end of this phase you're slightly more prone to knee injuries, so be sure to warm up and cool down properly.
The luteal phase (10-14 days): Estrogen and Progesterone peak and drop during this part of the cycle, this hormonal rollercoaster can cause feelings of sluggishness and fatigue. You may want to dial back the intensity of your workouts (yoga, walks etc) towards the end of this phase. Your basal metabolic rate may also be increased during this time which leads to food cravings and an increased appetite.
These are suggestions, you may feel differently during certain phases or have increased or decreased energy at different times. You don't "have" to adjust your workout routine to fit your menstrual cycle, but if you are tracking your cycle it may be worth trying!
I always say listen to your body, if you have lots of energy hit the weights or try a high-intensity class and if you're just not feeling it but want to move yoga, dance or a walk may be just the thing for you!
Would you be interested in learning more about what foods can help support your body during different phases of your menstrual cycle?