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For many of us, heading to the gym is the last thing on our mind when on our period. But, did you know exercising during menstruation could have its benefits? Personal trainer and women’s health specialist Hayley Madigan gives us the lowdown on getting active during your period and reveals the 5 things you should consider.


“As women, we go through many hormonal changes every single day. Typically, a normal menstrual cycle is anywhere form 24-32 days, with 28 days being the assumed average. Day 1 is considered as the first day of your period - during this time, we may face different physiological and psychological struggles especially when it comes to training and dieting. Here’s the 5 things you should know about exercising during your period.


1) Exercising during your period can decrease PMS

Exercising on your period has been shown to decrease PMS symptoms. It is common for women to experience painful cramps on the first few days of her period, along with bloating, mood swings, depression and low energy levels. Light exercise, in the form of low intensity training, can help alleviate some of these symptoms. It is important to remember that exercising will give you a natural endorphin high which can elevate your mood and make you feel better.


2) You may need to change how your train


Because Oestrogen starts at a low level from Day 1, it isn’t advised to do very high intense training or attempt to lift as heavy as you usually can during these first few days. Oestrogen is a natural anti-inflammatory (which means it can reduce DOMS) and helps with muscular remoulding (increased muscle growth) so, when oestrogen is on the rise (typically from around day 7) and then at its highest during ovulation, (when a slight surge of testosterone occurs) this is the time to aim heavy and weight train.


Depending on your PMS symptoms you may want to change the way you train. Yoga, Pilates and even mediation is ideal for the first few days when we may experience painful cramps and bloating. Light walking or low intense cardio is also beneficial during this time. However, if you’re not experiencing any discomfort or pain, then feel free to continue with your regular exercise regime. Being mindful of your body and remembering it’s okay to not go ‘all out’ in every single session is an important element to remember. Be kind to your body!


3) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself


Try not to stress about not following your usual routine. If you follow a training programme from a coach or have a personal trainer, make sure they are aware of your cycle and don’t ever feel embarrassed to let them know you are on your period. Simply showing up to the gym (if you feel like it) and trying the best you can is all that should ever be asked of you. Don’t put pressure on yourself to train as hard as you can or to increase your weights during this time. The small wins, like going for a walk or doing what you can in the gym, are what you should be celebrating.


4) Avoid HIIT training


Ideally, HIIT training should be avoided or limited where possible until oestrogen is back up on the rise (around day 7). This is because HIIT training is metabolically stressful and requires a longer period of recovery for the body to fully recover. Due to oestrogen’s anti-inflammatory properties, it makes more sense to plan your harder HIIT sessions when oestrogen is high.


5) Listen to your body


Most importantly, listen to your body! Don’t feel like training? Then, don’t! But remember, often the release of endorphins after getting the body moving can easily combat low moods and can help put you in a better mind frame, allowing you to change your mind set for the duration of the day.

Remember, every female has a different hormonal profile and is different in the way she experiences PMS symptoms. What works for one of us may not work for others and as long as you listen to your body, limit the pressure you place on yourself around this time and try different forms of exercise when and where you can, you will find what works for you.”


Need more advice on training during your period? Hayley’s your woman! Head over to her Instagram now for more inspirational posts and fitness tips and tricks.